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Cullen: Leinster win step to Sam

IN the context of Dublin's seasons over the past decade, winning Leinster titles can most appropriately be filed under 'housekeeping'.

Yesterday, in Croke Park, the indifference was again palpable. Another Delaney Cup, this time with Meath slain, yet blasé was the default setting.

And not just for the players, either. Croke Park got almost 70,000 attendees to a senior stand-alone match yesterday and really, only Denis Bastick and Bernard Brogan's goals, Meath's late stirring and Dublin's response raised the decibel levels beyond the norm.

Time was, Dublin celebrated Leinster titles like moon landings.

"I see them as stepping stones, to be honest with you," Bryan Cullen reflected afterwards, slightly taken aback when informed he was now the proud owner of eight Leinster medals.

"When you say that - eight provincial medals, I'd be disappointed not to have more of a return in an All-Ireland level."

"That's my fifth," realised Paul Flynn. "It will probably mean more to me when I retire than now in the middle of the season and in fairness the season only really begins now.

"This is the business end of the season, knockout, what we all love. Right now it is all about concentrating on a quarter-final. That's really all that matters.

"The one that stands out is the win in '09 against Kildare when we were down to 14 men. That was a special one and a great occasion, but to beat Meath in a Leinster final is great.

"There probably wasn't as much bite in the game as people would have thought, but we did our thing and won. That's the main thing."

And that was the prevailing message emanating from the Dublin camp yesterday. Job done, move on. It's unlikely the Delaney Cup will be doing the rounds of schools in the capital any time soon.

Winning meant Dublin avoided the dreaded six-day turnaround and another match with Laois next weekend, although they now have just two weeks until they play an All-Ireland quarter-final, a sharper turnaround than they are used to post-Leinster.

Whether or not they can raise their standards to levels akin to last year's win over Tyrone on the August Bank Holiday weekend won't be known until just then.

"I think for 50 minutes we played well today," offered Pat Gilroy afterwards. "We played some of our best football against a good team. I thought we had played reasonably well without being outstanding."

Naturally, Gilroy accepted that the two goals before half-time constituted the winning of the game although he was less than pleased with how his team had granted Meath a passage back to contention late on.

"Ah yeah they were big scores to get at that stage, if you're going to get goals it's a good time to get them," he said.

"But I thought we pushed on fairly well at the start of the second half and we probably made a lot of changes close together and that disrupted our rhythm a bit, but lads were out on their feet, physios were coming back saying these guys needed to be changed.

"So we made them fairly close together and that disrupted the team a good bit and we nearly suffered for it."

The constant tinkering to his team was, Gilroy felt, a mitigating factor but he will know that regardless of who comes through next weekend's quartet of matches, Dublin will need to be wholly more polished than they were yesterday.

What, for example, if Kerry came lurking after their hoodoo-banishing win over Tyrone, chests puffed out and ready to extract revenge for last September?

Gilroy has issues with his team now too. Good ones.

Eoghan O'Gara's inspiring contribution off the bench almost makes him a certain starter the next day out when Diarmuid Connolly -- sent to the bold boy corner by the CCCC for yesterday's game -- will also be back.

Cian O'Sullivan's selection was justified with a typically classy performance in defence and should hold on for the next day, although there were times, as Gilroy accepted, that his defence were swamped by Meath's running game.

"I think from the start Meath were trying to run at us and we had worked hard to stop that and repel it early on, and right up to probably the 50th minute we hadn't really let them through," he reckoned.

"Whether it was the changes we made or whatever it was, we started to let them get that run on us and it was straightforward running straight at us, and we didn't cope with it well, particularly then in the last five minutes.

"But the time to be outstanding is from August on," he added. "That's the reality. Hopefully in two weeks' time a lot of the things that nearly worked today will actually click."

Job done. Move on.