herald

Saturday 18 August 2018

Coman: Dublin crave bigger early tests

Statistics bear evidence of capital's complete dominance of Leinster during the Gavin era

GOAL HEROES: Dean Rock (pictured) and Diarmuid Connolly have
each struck six goals in the Leinster SFC during the Jim Gavin era
GOAL HEROES: Dean Rock (pictured) and Diarmuid Connolly have each struck six goals in the Leinster SFC during the Jim Gavin era

Some very telling facts about Dublin's dominance of Leinster in the Jim Gavin era.

They have won their 16 provincial matches therein by a combined total of 249 points, an average of 15. 56 points per match.

That figure reflects their most common winning margin: 16 points, a mark they have hit in five of those games.

Their biggest winning margin in that time is the 31 points they trounced Westmeath by last June, overtaking the 27 points they put on Sunday's opponents, Longford, when they last met in 2015.

At the other end of the scale, seven points is the closest any team has been to Dublin in Leinster since Gavin took over in 2013, the distance Meath kept them to in his first provincial decider.

That remains one of just two games in the sequence that Dublin failed to win by double figures - last year's nine-point win over Kildare in the final being the other.

The breakdown of the 39 goals they have scored in those 16 games is: Bernard Brogan (seven), Diarmuid Connolly, Dean Rock (six each), Eoghan O'Gara, Paul Flynn, Kevin McManamon (three each), Ciarán Kilkenny, Paul Mannion (two each), Paddy Andrews, Cormac Costello, Michael Darragh Macauley, Jack McCaffrey, James McCarthy, Con O'Callaghan and Brian Fenton (one each).

Kildare's Paddy Brophy meanwhile, has contributed two of the seven goals Dublin have conceded in that time.

The other five were scored by Daithí Waters (Wexfor), Mickey Newman (Meath), Paul Cahillane, Stephen Attride (both Laois) and James Stafford (Wicklow).

All told, it hasn't made for much of a competition.

"I'd like to think for the guys, winning a Leinster is of some value to them," says former Dublin captain Coman Goggins.

He's sceptical though.

"The tougher the game the greater the value in anything you achieve or you win," he points out.

Scarcely believable though it seems now, Dublin won just one Leinster title between 1995 and 2005. It was a period of curious mediocrity prior to the establishment of the county as the province's lone and overbearing force under 'Pillar' Caffrey.

Goggins was Dublin's captain in 2002, the season of their sole provincial title in an otherwise barren decade.

"And we celebrated it like it was the first one in seven years too!" he recalls.

"I don't think that happens anymore…"

You might say the runway to a 13th Leinster title in 14 years was cleared by the relatively surprising defeats Kildare and Meath suffered on the same Sunday two weeks back.

Equally, as Goggins points out, you could say it wasn't particularly cluttered in the first place.

"Four weeks ago you'd have said the same, that even with Meath and Kildare still in it that Dublin were still going to come through in Leinster," he reckons.

"From a Leinster perspective, it's not ideal because you are trying to sell games and get the public to attend matches and when Dublin are winning by 15 or 20 points it's hard for the public to engage in that.

Aftershocks

"As a consequence then, Leinster is challenged around how do you keep people interested in Gaelic games across the summer?"

Currently, the competition doesn't seem to be doing anyone any favours.

The last three provincial runners-up; Meath (2013, '14), Kildare (2017) and Westmeath (2015, '16) have all suffered from the aftershocks of their unceremonious drubbings from Dublin. Gavin's team meanwhile, haven't had to break sweat before August.

"No player goes out wanting to win a game by 20 to 25 points," Goggins reckons, "you want to go out and get tested, you want to go out and find something deep within you that helps you win a game.

"So I'd say if you spoke to any of the guys that played against Wicklow they'd say 'ah yeh, look, we won the game' but there is no enjoyment in that for any guy who is playing.

"Ultimately you want to be tested each time you put on a jersey.

"So if you're not being tested, the question then is psychologically and mentally 'how do you deal with that'?

"Particularly if you go on the road in the 'Super 8s'.

"Kerry in Killarney, Monaghan in Clones or Mayo in Castlebar in July would be a big test of Dublin if you come through Leinster without having been asked some questions.

"So they'd love to be tested I'm sure."

Promoted articles

Entertainment News