Saturday 22 October 2016

'We just took foot off the gas'

O'Sullivan points to positive aspects of Dubs performance after jumping their first hurdle

Cian O’Sullivan runs out on the pitch at Nowlan Park on Saturday. Pics: Sportsfile
Cian O’Sullivan runs out on the pitch at Nowlan Park on Saturday. Pics: Sportsfile

"A lapse in concentration," is Cian O'Sullivan's best guess right now as to how Dublin conceded two goals in a flash to a depleted Laois team in Nowlan Park last Saturday night.

"There was probably a five or 10 minute period there where Laois got two goals or 2-1 on the trot. So yeah, we would be disappointed in that," the Dubs' centre-back told the Herald.

"It was a lapse in concentration. Just took the foot off the gas. Disappointing to concede that amount of scores in that amount of time.

"But looking at the positives, we did finish the game very strongly. And we managed to regain control of the game after that.

"So it's important that the heads didn't drop. We were able to regain our lead after conceding scores. So there's a positive in how we reacted to that.

"But definitely, it's something we'll need to look at and improve."


It says a bit about both Dublin's status these days and the comparative stock of the rest of Leinster that a 11-point win can be picked apart and seen to contain stale ingredients but as it happened, there was as much talk about Jim Gavin's team's brief negligence as there was about their excellent score-taking or their sizable county of 2-21.

First, Jonny Cooper found himself haring back to chase Damien O'Connor and couldn't angle his body position to get a clean strike on the ball, thus conceding a penalty clinically finished by former Celtic cadet, Paul Cahillane.

Then, Stephen Attride came with purpose from deep and smashed a shot past Stephen Cluxton, unhindered by deep-sitting Dubs.

Simply a case of defenders being caught out of position?

"I think so, yeah. And just tagging runners or spare men coming up through the middle. A lapse in concentration from us, really," O'Sullivan agreed.

"A momentary lapse of concentration. The ball might have broken the wrong way for us a couple of times. But we'll look at it.

"Definitely stuff for us to work on there."

They were odd ones for Dublin to concede given the defensive solidity constructed during last year's All-Ireland win - underpinned by O'Sullivan's pocket-filling centre-back role - and confirmed during this year's League.

"Our defensive play has been very good to date," O'Sullivan pointed out.

"We haven't shipped too many goals. In fairness, you have to give credit to Laois.

"They were to very well taken goals from two attacks. They've got some really good players.

"But we would be happy with how we're playing defensively - or we were in our League campaign anyway.

"And at the weekend as well, we did quite well. But again, it's just concentration."

Otherwise, O'Sullivan confirmed, the experience was a positive one for Dublin.

They absorbed the blows and finished well.

"Winning our first game - and winning it by 11 points - is exactly what we wanted out of the game and we got it," he said, going on to praise the Dublin support that travelled.

"From my perspective, I really enjoyed it. There was a great Dublin crowd there and the atmosphere was fantastic. All the chants and everything.

"It really created a good atmosphere there. The fans who came down...they really made it a big occasion.

O'Sullivan had never even been to Nowlan Park before the previous week's dry run which, he insisted, was "important just to get your bearings in the stadium, to see what the pitch was like and get a feel for it.

"But it's a pitch, at the end of the day. There's a lot more that goes into winning a game than that. So we try and focus on those."

"The crowd is in on top of you," he noted.

"You could actually hear individual shouts from people in the crowd.

"It's a very buzzy atmosphere, I suppose. But that's a good thing, I think. It made it really enjoyable.

"The reception Eoghan O'Gara got when he came on and all the chants and stuff like that...it made for a really good atmosphere."

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