Sunday 17 December 2017

Backlash beckons in Ennis - but for who?

YOU all know the saying, beloved by small ball snobs everywhere: it's very hard to watch football after a game of hurling.

We're not entirely sure how Sky Blue 'dual' fans would make of the above, after enduring the polar opposite contrasts that were Dublin/Cork and Dublin/Tyrone on Saturday evening.

Suffice to say, the Dublin footballers may have encountered grave difficulty trying to eke out scores ... but the Dublin hurlers had no problem conceding them.

Three days on, it's still hard to fathom how Ger Cunningham's early-season flyers could fall so precipitously.

It's not that a Cork victory was such a massive surprise; what was alarming was the ease with which Rob O'Shea, Luke O'Farrell, Patrick Horgan and Seamus Harnedy plundered points for fun.

Paul Schutte (right) was actually heroic on the night, keep a tight leash on the usually elusive Alan Cadogan; but it was finger-in-the-dyke stuff.

Let's put Cork's 0-34 haul in context: the last time they amassed so many points in league or championship was back in 2000, when they tallied 2-32 against Kerry's 0-4 in the Munster SHC.

At least Dublin managed 1-21 in response ... but that defence is almost as flimsy as the one they offered on the night, especially in a first half which ended with Cork on 0-21 and seemingly on target to break the 40-point barrier. After all, Dublin are meant to be contenders; they are not Kerry.

That said, their fall from February grace was entirely in keeping with an oscillating league that sees the last two All-Ireland winners currently in the drop zone.

It might even be beneficial in the longer term - not merely because an early-season reality check is often no harm for teams being talked up above their station. Questions about where best to play Conal Keaney, Peter Kelly and especially Liam Rushe will be posed more forensically in the wake of such a defeat.

Saturday's trip to Ennis is probably the ideal antidote, but it's hard to know which way to duck when avoiding the likely backlash as a pointless Banner square off against our chastened Dubs.

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