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Friday 15 December 2017

Dublin plot to trim the Lilies

THE journey to try and secure an audience with Brendan Martin starts next Sunday. An appointment with the Lilywhites in the TG4 Leinster Senior Championship semi-final.

Last season, Dublin lost their Leinster Championship opener to Meath at Nh Mearnóg.

There was only a point in it, 0-10 to 0-9. It was a terrific match. It was level six times. The tempo never dipped.

Meath's industry was impressive. They tackled and blocked till the cows came home and went out again for the night.

Sinead Goldrick and Sinead Aherne were the Dublin stars. The defeat saw the Dubs take the long road of the All-Ireland qualifiers.

It concluded with a one-point defeat to Cork in the All-Ireland quarter-final in Birr. The Blues were six points up with 15 minutes to go.

Cork, without a match for six weeks, began to find their rhythm and stretch into their deep pockets of experience. Again, Goldrick and Aherne were superb.

It was Tommy Brown's last game in charge. He had led the Jackies back to Division 1.

"To finish in the top four of Division 1 was pleasing, but it was a pity we didn't go that bit further," reflects Dubs selector, Pat Ring.

Dublin fell to the eventual champions, Monaghan, in that Bord Gáis Energy League semi-final. Peter Clarke and his crew went into conclave when the campaign ended.

When they announced their championship panel for 2012, two of their All-Stars were not on it, Siobhan McGrath and 2010 All-Ireland winning skipper, Denise Masterson. The naming of that squad was the talk of the parish in ladies football. People found it hard to grasp how two such celebrated footballers hadn't made the cut. The Dublin management experimented in the league.

They took full advantage of the rule change, as Ring explains: "In the group stages of the league, you could use unlimited substitutions, and that meant teams could move players in all day if they liked.

"A lot of players saw good game-time and they did very well.

"But it reverted back to the normal five for the semi-finals and it's the same now for the championship."

Dublin began the year with a handsome win over Kildare in Ballykelly, 5-18 to 0-6.

"That was our first league game. We had been back training two months before that, so our fitness was good.

"Kildare hadn't been in training at that stage as long as we had, so our fitness was an advantage that day.

"But it's now a few months further down the road.

"Every county focuses very strongly on the championship, and nobody can take anything for granted. We certainly won't, that's for sure.

"Our preparations have been going well. The girls are working hard and we have been playing some challenge matches.

"The club championship has also been going on, so players have been getting games there. That will help with match-tightness.

"Having to travel to Kildare also makes it that bit more difficult. It's never easy playing a championship match in the home of your opposition.

"But we will be focused very much on the job at hand.

"Kildare is the only thing that we are thinking about at the moment," stresses Pat.

And well before they arrive in the land of the Curragh, Dublin will be very much under starter's orders.

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