Tuesday 21 November 2017

Dublin fired up for full tilt at Sam

Dublin’s Niall Scully goes on the attack with Westmeath’s Mark McCallon in pursuit during
yesterday’s Leinster SFC semi-final at Croke Park. SPORTSFILE
Dublin’s Niall Scully goes on the attack with Westmeath’s Mark McCallon in pursuit during yesterday’s Leinster SFC semi-final at Croke Park. SPORTSFILE

Anyone who thinks that this Dublin team are lacking hunger or that they might be running out of gas were given a very clear message yesterday - they are not ready to give up their titles just yet.

It was arguably their best performance under Jim Gavin in the last five years and the ruthlessness they showed was a clear warning to other teams that they are not prepared to just simply fade away like all other great teams have done in the past.

This was a cake-wake for Dublin, a complete annihilation. A very good senior team against a poor enough junior team and that's the reality.

How long will it be before the penny drops with in the GAA hierarchy that the present format is an unfair competition for most counties?

If you put a junior team into a senior championship at club level there would be uproar and quite simply it wouldn't be tolerated but at county level it has been the norm from day one despite the one-sided games that we get on a yearly basis.

One wonders why the likes of Westmeath and other teams at their level don't kick up a fuss about it and I suppose until they do we are unlikely to see a change to the present format.

Westmeath were totally out of their depth and were systematically taken apart right through to the final whistle. Dublin were extremely impressive and looked very organised and extremely fresh and hungry for work.


Their ability to win the Westmeath kickouts in the first half shows just how clued in they were and that gave them the possession they needed to create chance after chance.

These Dublin players are excellent on the front foot and it was no surprise that the scores mounted up in the opening period.

And all this without the likes of Paul Flynn, Diarmuid Connolly, Philly McMahon and Michael Darragh Macauley who are on the injured list or in Connolly's case suspended.

When they led by 17 points with just over 20 minutes to go both Kevin McManamon and Bernard Brogan were sprung which shows the impressive depth of talent.

The talent is coming through and Jim Gavin has been able to manage this very well without putting too much pressure on the young players.

They are played when he thinks the time is right and yesterday we saw Con O'Callaghan and Niall Scully impress on their first championship starts in Croke Park.

O'Callaghan looks very comfortable and he kicks great points off either foot in the opening quarter.

There were other great individual performances from the likes of Ciarán Kilkenny, Brian Fenton, Eric Lowndes and Dean Rock but the man who stood out was Paul Mannion who managed eight points in what was a near flawless performance.

The Kilmacud Crokes man has been around for a few years and there has never been any question about his talent and this may well turn out to be his summer. Some of his scores were simply sublime.

It was an easy victory and Dublin will already have switched focus to the Leinster final against Kildare on Sunday, July 16.

It will be a step up in class as they come up against a team that will be playing their football in Division One next year.

Cian O'Neill has done a terrific job in a short space of time and will look forward to the challenge that lies ahead.

He will look at ways his men can get at Dublin and I think he has a very well balanced team with a good defence, very strong midfield and some top quality scoring forwards.


They made Meath look ordinary in their provincial semi-final last Saturday week in Tullamore with an all-action game-plan that combined good organised defensive play with a brand of attacking football that would trouble the best.

However, Dublin are a different animal and will have some of their injured players back in contention the next day. The competition for places in the group is astonishing with everyone ready to preform if given the opportunity.

Dublin look fresh, hungry and ready to give it everything in their quest for a three in-a-row and based on yesterday's performance it is going to take something very special to stop them.

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