Dublin not safe from the drop
Corcoran says Division 1A is cut throat ahead of Dublin's tricky trip to Ennis
EXTRICATION of maximum points from successive league games against the previous year's All-Ireland finalists replete with a scoring difference of +17 might seem like cause for comfort but such is the claustrophobic nature of hurling's Division 1A, no one's safe just yet.
For example Tipperary finished last year's five game programme with four points and made an Allianz HL Division 1 final.
Waterford earned the same figure and were relegated, after losing a Division 1A relegation play-off against Dublin - who had four points with the Dubs and Tipp separated by total points scored (Tipperary 12-86 (107), Dublin 5-85 (95_).
Cork and Clare in the 2013 1A relegation play-off - four points apiece.
"We won two games last year and we ended up in a relegation final," recalls Dublin defender, Niall Corcoran.
"So, win a game Saturday and you're sure of a quarter-final spot. Lose your next two games (Clare and Galway in Dublin's case) and you could be in the relegation final.
"The fact that it is six teams, it's cut throat.
"But it does get players in that mind set to be focused. And it's a good test maybe of where you're at, at this time of year. Probably from a player's point of view, the more games you get as a player, the more you want to play.
"We have to be ready for that and we have to be mentally strong to face that challenge."
As it is, Cork, Dublin, Galway and Tipp have that limbo figure of four, leaving the last two All-Ireland champions; Kilkenny (two) and Clare (none) in the trapdoor slots (one county relegated).
There is, it seems, no relegation fodder in 1A. And none of the six therein would be particularly endeared by the prospect of launching their 2016 All-Ireland bids from the murkier hurling backwards of Division 1B.
"The last place you want to be is in a relegation match against Kilkenny," Corcoran acknowledges, with a touch of understatement.
"So Saturday is very important for us to get a result and get a performance."
Plus, Dublin's scoring difference (+6) isn't so handsome any more after Saturday night's 'Carry On Hurling' performance against Cork in Croke Park.
Thirty-four points conceded is the figure that should be burning in Dublin's psyche this week ahead of Ennis.
"I think it's just … Saturday night, we forgot to bring the shovel to work and we didn't work hard enough," Corcoran explains.
"It was a case of guys just switching off. We got caught by a couple of line balls from Cork and they got scores from it.
"So it was just all those small things that went against us on Saturday night."
Though even allowing for the annual form oscillations of springtime, Dublin's dip in such a short time was dramatic.
"One thing we're trying to work on is our consistency," Corcoran explains.
"We've been consistent over the last two games against Tipperary and Kilkenny but …there is always a danger there that we might slump and that happened on Saturday night.
"It's very hard to put your finger on what that comes back to. It's been a trait of our game for the last number of years.
"Probably it may be a case of lads maybe having to focus on their job and playing the occasion.
"It's something that we have to look at as players and rectify it."
There is, it must be said, the relative security of a home match with Galway in Parnell Park to come and so Clare's need for a result is far greater on Saturday, even if Dublin are required to issue some form of response to that Cork display in Croke Park.
"Yeah, they have lost their three games now and they want to avoid relegation. They're looking for a win down there," Corcoran admits.
"The last time we were down there was a qualifier match in 2012.
"We were beaten and listening to Davy, his focus looks like it's on the Championship.
"But they've two games left to avoid relegation. And the way the league is, it's so tight.
"We won two games last year and ended up in a relegation play-off with Waterford," Corcoran adds.
"It's a really big game for us on the weekend and I think even Saturday night will help us focus the minds that bit more to get a performance from ourselves in Ennis."
I think it's just we forgot to bring the shovel to work and we didn't work hard enough.