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Thursday 14 December 2017

dubs fail to rise to occasion

DUBLIN'S minors hammered. Kilkenny's seniors winning by double scores afterwards. A gummy Dublin attack mustering a total second-half haul matched by Henry Shefflin alone, making a Kilkenny defence look young again.

Yes, for Dublin hurling, yesterday was like the bad old days.

Worse.

They didn't go down to a particularly good - by their own recently devastating standards - Kilkenny team.

Crafty? Yes. Tight and aggressive at the back? Certainly.

But cut from the same stone as the 2007/'08 team that dominated the game? Absolutely not.

Indeed, if there is minor solace from yesterday's dreary, disappointing afternoon for Dublin, it's that were they to relocate their form of mid- summer 2013, they could - on this form - beat Kilkenny if their journeys prove long enough to cross paths this year.

Afterwards, Anthony Daly was asked to outline the process by which Dubin can still mount a credible All-Ireland bid from here.

characters

"I'm not sure," he shrugged. "You just appeal to their character. You say: 'what we do we do now? Do we stand up? Are we going to have a lash off this?' The easy option is just to say: 'ah, this wasn't our year.'

"But that won't do in three weeks time. We just look for the characters in the room. And already, you can see it down there. They will have a good lash at it.

"I can't say that for certain sitting here, but from what I've seen from them in the past when they've lost, they've picked up their heads and gone again and that's what I hope will happen."

The other conundrum Daly was asked to solve was the lethargy of his team's performance.

Yes, they were guilty of over-elaboration at times, but poor execution can make short-range passing look like an unnecessary affectation.

More to the point, Dublin seemed to greatly over-estimate the odds of an aerial victory for Alan McCrabbe in direct combat with a specialist like JJ Delaney, with a spare Jackie Tyrrell lying near by.

"Talking about it after the parade, Shane Martin said to me 'everything is ready,' But he great imponderable is, you just don't know. Ah look, I've often been in tension-filled rooms and fellas went out and hurled great.

"Sometimes there's no tension, you think everything is right...it just didn't click into gear today at all.

"We were lucky not to concede another goal but you're trying to use the ball," he added. "Our touch was just off. Normally, we would be confident with those lads. One touch ball, one touch hand. They would show that normally in training. And in Wexford, I thought that was very good.

examine

"But it's hard to put your finger on it in these few moments afterwards. We have to examine it now over the next few days and get back at it.

"We got our hand to the ball but we were letting it fall. If you let it fall around those lads, you know what usually happens. They tackled tigerishly. We didn't match that intensity at all today.

"But we've just got to get up on the horse again and get back at it. We've got to recover and go training again and get back at it and try and put in a big performance in three weeks' time. We didn't perform today. Whatever about results, we didn't perform.

"That's what we'll be aiming to do in the quarter-final and see where it takes us. We don't know who we'll be playing yet but we have to get our heads around it."

Kilkenny have no such worries.

They're 70 minutes from an All-Ireland final but we're not yet sure where they are in a more abstract sense.

Asked whether they were back to the standards set during the aforementioned peak, Brian Cody wasn't particularly inclined to indulge.

"Is this not our peak? You see, I don't see years as peak years I don't see it that way at all. A peak year is when you win an All-Ireland final and regardless what people think that is the objective for everyone.

challenge

"We were a long way from it last year and it's a huge challenge and we are just working away diligently. We have good competition for places, good fluency as regards which team we put out."

Predictably, he was complimentary almost to the point of being optimistic about Dublin's near future.

"No one will be queuing up to play them at all," he insisted. "They will progress from it and go ahead and I don't need to tell Dublin what they are capable of doing.

"They were within a whisker of getting to an All-Ireland final last year and are in a quarter-final now and are capable of beating anybody."

Daly, understandably, was in deep admiration for his team's conquerors. He's had some great, but more bad days against them as a manager and while not everything about their hurling was pristine yesterday, their attitude and and work ethic were exemplary.

hook

"I would give them great credit," he admitted.

"They've really shown that they're entitled to be All-Ireland favourites over the last few weeks. They might have let Galway off the hook but they didn't the last day and they didn't today.

"They'll be hard to beat. They're a step ahead of us in the pecking order. They're Leinster champions.

"But we're in the quarter final and we've seen over the last week or two that anything can happen in this Championship. We've got to pick ourselves up. That's what we've got to do."

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