Saturday 23 March 2019

Exit wound for Blues

Allianz HL Division 1B Dublin v Galway (Parnell Pk, Tomorrow, 2.0)

Niall McMorrow is a loss for Pat Gilroy but the Dublin boss will welcome back the combativeness of Ryan O’Dwyer. Photo: Sportsfile
Niall McMorrow is a loss for Pat Gilroy but the Dublin boss will welcome back the combativeness of Ryan O’Dwyer. Photo: Sportsfile

News this week that Niall McMorrow has left the Dublin hurling squad can't be disguised as being in any way positive.

The Ballyboden man was given the task of shadowing Cian Lynch in Limerick last Saturday but was substituted at half-time and is understood to have left the squad this week.

Gilroy could do without defections just now, particularly from someone like McMorrow, who has Championship experiences and physically is able to mix it at this level.

Granted, it's a bit early for talk of pressure or crises. But it's hard to imagine Dublin turning 2018 into a year of progress if they wind up in a relegation play-off to Division 2A.


Ryan O'Dwyer returns tomorrow for his first match for Dublin this year but it's easy to see what attracted Gilroy to his characteristic combativeness. Somewhat surprisingly, Eoghan O'Donnell has been named at corner-back, despite the fact that none of the other Dublin players who are due to line out for DCU in today's Fitzgibbon Cup final are included. There are also first League starts for Darren Kelly, Paul Crummey and Ronan Hayes in Gilroy's named XV but their problems currently run deeper than selection.

Currently, it's difficult to know whether to blame the system or its components for their performances.

Gilroy put the Limerick display down to players shutting off what they were supposed to be doing when the home side had the ball.

Limerick's knack of finding a man in space around midfield to put the ball over the bar was, he felt, a symptom of players ball-watching in that area. Yet it looked distinctly as though Dublin ran out of energy, even if they kept trying long after another two League points had evaporated.

And Galway aren't exactly ideal opposition for turning things quickly about-face. Against Offaly, nine of their All-Ireland team played. That's just not the sort of strength against which Dublin can compete at the minute.

While Danny Sutcliffe, Conal Keaney and Fergal Whitely all had their moments in the Gaelic Grounds, the team never looked like they possessed any great attacking cohesion. And at the back, they were vulnerable to both early, direct delivery and Limerick running at them from deep.

Doubtless, Gilroy's project is long term but in the exclusive context of this game, it's near impossible to construct an argument for a Dublin win.

You've to go back to the pre-Daly bad old days for the last time Dublin were 6/1 to win a League match in Parnell Park.

Fact is, though, that price reflects where they are just now.

Dublin (SH v Galway): A Nolan; P Smyth, B O'Carroll, E O'Donnell; S Barrett, C Crummey, D Kelly; T Connolly, F MacGibb; P Crummey, C Keaney, D Sutcliffe; R Hayes, R O'Dwyer, P Winters

ODDS: Dublin 6/1, Draw 12/1, Galway 1/9


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