Thursday 14 December 2017

Ennis the perfect venue for Dubs to bury ghosts

LAST time Dublin went marching - literally - to Ennis, they were attempting to wash the taste out of their mouths of an awful performance against Kilkenny in Portlaoise.

Last Saturday was, arguably, their worst since that day and in one of those coincidences routinely and wrongly branded 'ironic', it's Cusack Park again where Ger Cunningham's (left) men try to scrub away the grime of their loss to Cork.

The similarities don't end there, even if they're only really cosmetic.

In 2012, when Anthony Daly brought his team marching through the town, Clare's public were wholly unimpressed with Davy Fitzgerald and his possession-keepi ng ways.

An All-Ireland later, his managerial abilities are unquestioned but three losses from three League games leaves them as desperate as any serious hurling team can be at this juncture in the season. And if any team knows the effects of a desperate Clare team and their backers, it's Dublin.

"I think it was a psychological thing. It wasn't a tactical thing at that stage, anyway," recalls Maurice O'Brien of his last Championship start for Dublin.

"We were in control of the game and certainly, looked as if we were in a winning position."

"Once they got the man sent off (Nicky O'Connell), they began to really come into the game.

"And once they got a run on us and once the crowd got involved in the game, our heads dropped drastically."

Anthony Daly went even further in his recall of the day in his memoirs.

A day that must have ranked as the weirdest of his reign as Dublin boss.

"After the sending-off, it was as if the Park had been transformed into the Türk Telekom Arena in Istanbul, where Galatasaray play," he wrote. "And we felt like we were Fenerbahçe on the run."

Today won't have quite such severe consequences for Dublin, but two bad losses on the spin won't help this team's apparently brittle confidence.

"My abiding memory from that game was just the atmosphere, the crowd Clare brought," Niall Corcoran (right) recalls of the 2012 Championship exit, the one that looked like the end of the world for Dublin only for them to go on and win Leinster the very next year.

"But their backs are to the wall now and the whole county is going to be behind them to get that win."

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