Friday 24 November 2017

Dubs quickly into stride

WHEN your previous competitive outing is the All-Ireland final to end All-Ireland finals, O'Byrne Cup football in Carlow on a dreary January afternoon could leave a team somewhat underwhelmed.

As the saying goes: not even the O'Byrnes go to the O'Byrne Cup.

Then again, Dublin's 2011 would hardly have finished in such satisfactory style were it not for the hard-working attitude epitomised by the group in the preamble to All-Ireland ecstacy. So somewhat typically, they faced up to the reality of the season-after-the-season-before with customary application and, as has become something of a good habit of theirs, a win.


File this one under 'cobweb removal'.

The honing of skills and tweaking of tactics are for the evenings during which sunlight is in attendance.

Now is clearly a time for working as if your place on the panel depended on it and for a team who wintered so satisfyingly, there was no lack of energy or hunger for the battle.

When your Tuesday morning alarm clock goes off and the digits read '5:00' there's probably not much dredge to a match against Carlow on a Sunday afternoon.

The first day back at school culminated in a seven-point victory (0-17 to 0-10) powered by an overdrive effort in the last 20 minutes to set up a meeting against UCD in Parnell Park next Saturday night (7.45) and, at the very least, another competitive match before the big league duel with Kerry in Croke Park on February 4.

"The lads had a hard week (in training) so it was going to be hard to get a full game out of them," reflected Gilroy. "Fellas worked hard to get into that game and after the week we had I would be very happy with the application of them."

Fielding six of the 15 who began against Kerry last September 18, Dublin set the agenda by running hard and direct at Carlow who, for all their toil, couldn't live with the Dubs' power or pace - even if the disparity wasn't immediately obvious on the scoreboard.

Carlow -- powered by their own bulging human dynamo, Brendan Murphy -- began the second-half with a flurry, kicking five of the first eight scores of the half to wipe out their two point (0-6 to 0-4) midway deficit.

"That's the big area we have to address," noted Luke Dempsey of how the remainder of the match unraveled for his team, "whether it's Dublin we were playing or a match in Division 4 that when we get level with a team that we don't capitulate and make our own mistakes."

Dublin, despite their ailing energy levels, punished Carlow (who, by the way, were sporting the latest attempt to make the most derided jersey in the GAA less offensive to the eye) in the most severe terms.

Lessons learned?

Not very many although the snug fit of a handful of new faces bodes well for inter-panel competition. Davy Byrne was tidy and direct at wing-back, as was his Ballymun Kickhams team-mate, Karl Connolly on the far flank of the Dublin defence.

Up front Míceál McCarthy -- a man who has been bubbling under the surface for the past year -- kicked three fine points from play (also a free) and won plenty of ball, though his tally would have stretched even further were it not for a couple of skied free attempts.

"You look for the application and a lot of them are showing it," praised Gilroy in an understated sort of way.


"In the first week at least. They have shown a great appetite for work and doing what's right for the team. The lads who played today worked very hard for the team and they're only there seven days. They got a very quick grasp of it, but I suppose they were watching the team over the last few years."

Of the established order, Michael Darragh Macauley stood out, as much for his unorthodox, all-action effort as much as anything else.

The All Star midfielder's work-rate was, to quote the man himself, unbelievable, while the ever-classy Diarmuid Connolly and steady assurance of Bryan Cullen (when was the last time he gave the ball away?) brought touches of class in vital sectors of the pitch.

As did Tomás Quinn, whose 47th minute introduction coincided/ prompted Dublin's late rout. The St Vincent's sniper bagged three quick points and finished up top-scorer with five (two frees) in an impressive exhibition of space location and score-taking.

The other revealing aspect of Dublin's week one activity is that Gilroy obviously hasn't discarded the importance of a decent league campaign and even if his team were later than the rest in returning to training (be it individual or group), he appears determined to make up for lost time.

"It's all part of our preparations for the National League and trying to continue on what you're doing during the week," he explained. "You can't be resting lads coming into these games. You're building up on your fitness.

"Our shooting in the first half was appalling, but you'd expect that at this time of year -- lads are heavy- legged. It's about getting that sort of thing right and hopefully over the next few weeks we'll start to shoot a small bit better than we did in the first half there."

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