Sunday 19 January 2020

Dublin and Laois have nothing to hide

Brennan: A pity Laois don't have more time to prepare

Laois manager Eddie Brennan celebrates after the Joe McDonagh Cup Final win over Westmeath at Croke Park
Laois manager Eddie Brennan celebrates after the Joe McDonagh Cup Final win over Westmeath at Croke Park

As a fixture, Dublin's preliminary All-Ireland quarter-final with Laois in Portlaoise this coming Sunday has a touch of mutual appreciation about it.

Had Mattie Kenny been told his team would navigate the choppy waters of this year's Leinster SHC steadily enough to earn a shoot-out with Laois for a spot in the All-Ireland quarter-final proper, he'd surely have considered it a fair deal.

And, as Eddie Brennan put it after Sunday's impressive Joe McDonagh Cup final win in Croke Park: "If you told me at the start of the year that we'd have the Dubs coming down to play us in O'Moore Park in a preliminary quarter-final I'd have taken the hand clean off you."

They might not have much time to prepare - a fact that naturally irked the former Kilkenny forward - but it's not as though Dublin are keeping any secrets from Laois.

They played each other in the last round of Division 1B of the League in Parnell Park on March 3, when Dublin won by just two points on an atrocious evening for hurling.

Context is important here.

Referee Liam Gordon inspected the pitch twice before deciding the game would go ahead and by the time it did, the pitch in Donnycarney had already began to cut up.

But it took the sharp stick work of substitute Oisín O'Rorke and a couple of memorable saves from debutant goalkeeper Seán Brennan to prevent a shock.


"We should have beaten them that day," Eddie Brennan recalls.

"Dublin are definitely a different animal from that day but then so are we.

"We are up against it but we're not going to shy away from it. We're not engaging in mind games.

"It's a great challenge, it's a brilliant position to be in."

More recently, Brennan posted a thoroughly unflattering online critique of Dublin's League semi-final defeat to Limerick, a match when attrition and grunt were far more evident than artistry and skill.

Posting via his Twitter account, Brennan wrote: 'God this is ugly hurling, as near as it gets to all-out defending which has destroyed Gaelic football. Dublin coming with a plan to saturate between the 45s & frustrating Limerick!'

He went on to describe the fare as "rugby with hurls" although Brennan also later clarified: "And that's not just Dublin I'm pointing the finger at."

If Brennan needs any deeper insight into Dublin, he need only ask his selector defender. former Dublin Niall Corcoran.

Corcoran was corner back on the Dublin team that beat Kilkenny in the 2013 Leinster semi-final in O'Moore Park, Dublin's first Championship victory over the Cats since 1942.

He also still plays his club hurling with Kilmacud Crokes, alongside Dublin players O'Rorke, Fergal Whitely, Bill O'Carroll and Ronan Hayes.

"I think the players themselves will rise to that challenge. They're that type of group," Brennan noted.

"Their mindset has changed so much in the last few months. They're enjoying this. In a way, it's a free match, they can really go and let fly."

As Brennan highlighted, Dublin have had plenty of time to cool off from their victory over Galway in Parnell Park, although whether it is sufficient time to heal some of their walking-wounded is another issue.

Eoghan O'Donnell cast some doubt on his availability because of the hamstring injury that forced him off against Galway.

Cian O'Callaghan hasn't played for Dublin since February 17. Mark Schutte and Fiontann McGibb are also long-term injured. For all that, they are brimming with the confidence of a team who took a large step back towards the summit by beating Galway.

And as Brennan also pointed out, his team have just seven days to celebrate, repair and prepare following their Joe McDonagh Cup win and promotion back into the Leinster SHC for 2020.

"You get so psychologically up for a match like that," he said.

"And then there is a comedown from that and there's an element of look, you have to let the boys go and celebrate and enjoy it.

"And that's one thing I don't want to be zoning in on, the negatives, or giving out for the sake of it.

"But it's a pity in a way that we're not allowed a proper amount of time to get ready for that match.

"Dublin will get three or four weeks of resting and we have to do that in a week.

"I'm not whinging about it, I just think it would be a good thing going forward (to have a bigger break) and really give us a good chance.

"But I can't wait for it to be honest. We just have to get lads tuned into it."

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