Gilroy: I knew it was going to take time
Limerick 1-26 Dublin 0-17
As the Gaelic Grounds emptied after a dull, lifeless 12-point Limerick victory, the only people who lingered inside were the inhabitants of the Dublin dressing-room and those waiting to interview Pat Gilroy.
Characteristically forthright, the Dublin manager didn't shirk when he emerged to chat.
Presumably he delivered his public message with slightly less force than the one he had left in the dressing-room moments earlier - but he was frank, all the same.
"When we came into this, we realised the task was a huge task," he explained.
"The team was coming from a difficult place."
There and then, it seemed pertinent to ask Gilroy whether he was overtly concerned.
That, for all his warnings that things might get worse before they improved, he would have anticipated a better level of performance at this albeit early stage in the hurling calendar than he has so far produced from this Dublin team.
"We're putting in savage training. It's going to take time," he repeated. "This ain't going to switch overnight into us being a top four team.
"It's going to take a lot of work and a lot of effort. So yeah, you were hoping that you were going to get better performances than we're getting, but we have to live with that.
"It's something we're trying to bring into the team. We have to accept that it might take time to get used to that. We have to just get on with it this week."
Whatever about the demoralising effects, the practical implications of Dublin's three performances in Division 1B are still uncertain.
They have just two points after three games and possess a scoring difference of minus 24.
After the Galway game in Parnell Park next Sunday, a fixture that doesn't exactly prompt optimism, they go to Portlaoise where a win would almost certainly guarantee Dublin a spot in the League quarter-final, despite the fact that they are visibly some way shy of being competitive with any prospective 1A opposition.
"You can feel sorry for yourself, but you're going to get nowhere," Gilroy stressed.
"We as a group have decided there's a certain way we want to play. We're trying to get the bodies into shape so they can play that way.
"That is a work in progress. The lads themselves are very disappointed. They were very disappointed at half-time that they let that drop.
"That's the main message. It's no big secret what we're looking for. But it just doesn't happen overnight."
A week might be pushing it, too.
Dublin won't have their DCU contingent for the Galway game, three of whom started against Limerick on Saturday.
And Gilroy must be wishing St Patrick's Day comes quicker this year than usual, given his team's current defensive issues and the ready-made remedies currently inhabiting the Cuala team.
All Saturday night, Limerick found purchase with early delivery into their full-forward line where, as John Kiely noted afterwards, "if we didn't get the score from play, we were going to get it from a free."
Then, when Dublin sought to chase Limerick down, the Treaty men simply pinged the ball backwards to a free man, who usually scored from a comfortable distance.
The outcome was Limerick's half-forward line contributing ten points between them.
"There's a number of things we're trying to do in terms of getting the base right here in the way that we defend," Gilroy explained.
"We're not leaving ourselves very vulnerable to goals, which is a positive.
"But around the middle third, at times, we're following the ball, with guys leaving men free. It's something we have to work on.
"You can't leave people around the middle. It's going to be a score. In the first 15 minutes, we were very good at it. We were shutting them down all over the place.
"But we shut down for a ten-minute period there and it killed us."
Other than Danny Sutcliffe and occasional flurries from Conal Keaney and Feargal Whitely, Dublin were laborious and toothless up front, too, even if 0-17 wasn't a bad tally in the circumstances.
But Limerick had already begun to demonstrate their superiority by the time Alan Nolan, left exposed by his defence and the pace of Seamus Flanagan, fouled Barry Murphy for a 24th minute penalty, masterfully dispatched by Aaron Gillane.
Whether it was the psychological effect of that score, one that put Limerick eight points up, or that Limerick moved into another gear once comfortable, that was as far as the contest went.
"The second half of the first half, we completely dropped off in our intensity," Gilroy noted. "And when we do that, we're very vulnerable.
"We're certainly not getting the performances in the game that we're seeing in terms of the effort that's going into training.
"But we know the root cause of this. Once we drop off our intensity around the middle third, we are very vulnerable.
"If we don't get that, we're not going to win games."
SCORERS - Limerick: A Gillane 1-9 (7f), T Morrissey, D Reidy (1f) 0-4 each, D Byrnes (1f) 0-3, G Hegarty, S Flanagan 0-2 each, P Ryan, B O'Connell 0-1 each. Dublin: D Burke 0-6 (6f), D Sutcliffe 0-5, C Keaney 0-2, F Whitely, C Boland, E O'Donnell, F McGibb 0-1 each.
LIMERICK: N Quaid; S Finn, S Hickey, R English; D Byrnes, D Hannon, D Morrissey; P Browne, C Lynch; G Hegarty, T Morrissey, D Reidy; A Gillane, S Flanagan, B Murphy. Subs: P Ryan for Gillane (48), O O'Reilly for Murphy (54), B O'Donnell for Hegarty (57), R McCarthy for Hickey (66)
DUBLIN: A Nolan; P Smyth, E O'Donnell, B O'Carroll; T Connolly, C Crummey, S Barrett; C McBride, N McMorrow; F McGibb, C Keaney, D Sutcliffe; F Whitely, C Boland, D Burke. Subs: C Costello for McBride (24), D Kelly for O'Carroll (h-t), R Hayes for McMorrow (h-t), L Rushe for Boland (h-t), J Madden for Connolly (70).
WIDES - Limerick: 13 (8 + 5). Dublin: 9 (6 + 3).
BOOKED - Limerick: 1 (English 53). Dublin: 3 (O'Carroll 22, Rushe 53, Sutcliffe 61).
REF: J Ryan (Tipperary). ATT: 2,604
MAN OF THE MATCH: Declan Hannon (Limerick)