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Experienced Dublin XV destined to make short work of distracted Carlow

IN stark contrast to the multiple permutations of Division 1A – a challenge fit for Archimedes – the Division 1B table looks so relatively straight-forward that you might wonder if there's a need to play any matches at all on the last day.

Dublin, barring a miracle or a bizarre mathematical twist or indeed both, will be contesting a Division 1B final against Limerick next weekend.

A week later and Carlow will be playing for their Division 1B lives in a relegation play-off, the only issue yet to be decided being whether the opposition comes from Wexford, Offaly or (more probably) Antrim.

Given their respective scenarios, it's entirely understandable to suspect that neither team will be going hell for leather in Donnycarney.

For Dublin the really big match to win was in Wexford last weekend, for a variety of reasons. Lose and their promotion hopes would have been dangling by the flimsiest of threads, and that's leaving aside the almost-as-pressing requirement to (a) atone for their scattergun defeat against Limerick and (b) lay down an early championship marker ahead of their Leinster quarter-final with Wexford in June.

Job done, and with a welcome level of clinical conviction to boot, as Dublin steamrolled their hosts in the first half en route to a 13-point success.

In theory, of course, the revitalised Dubs can still be pipped for a league final berth but that would require them not only losing tomorrow (unlikely) coupled with wins for both Wexford in Limerick and Offaly in Antrim (equally unlikely) and, finally, a massive scoring difference shift involving one of the latter (even more unlikely).

In a nutshell, it won't happen. One reason it won't is that Anthony Daly has still managed to pick a pretty experienced team, even in the midst of resting several regulars and giving game-time to a handful of others in pressing need of same.

Thus, while there is Gary Maguire, Peter Kelly, Michael Carton, Joey Boland (Dublin's standout performer in recent weeks), Danny Sutcliffe or David O'Callaghan in the starting line-up, Daly hasn't gone with a team of callow rookies either.



Specifically, he has recalled fit-again former captain Stephen Hiney (after the briefest of Wexford Park cameos) for his first start of the campaign while Ryan O'Dwyer (back in harness after shoulder surgery and listed at full-forward) will doubtless hope to hit the ground running on his first appearance of the year.

Also making their first starts of the current league are erstwhile corner-back regular Oisín Gough along with Niall McMorrow and Eamon Dillon up front.

For Carlow, this has been a frustratingly close-but-no-cigar campaign, as evidenced by how they established positions of promise against Limerick, Wexford and most glaringly Offaly, only to come away pointless. Maybe those morale-sapping setbacks explain their disappointing 10-point defeat at home by Antrim last weekend; or maybe, as manager John Meyler speculated this week, they suffered under the unusual "expectation that we were favourites".

Either way, they won't be favourites tomorrow but even that won't shield them from near-certain defeat.

BOYLESPORTS ODDS: Dublin 1/20, Draw 20/1, Carlow 9/1