Monday 16 December 2019

It's all too easy for Dubs


Missed opportunity: Paul Mannion (top) and Cormac Costello show their frustration after a goal chance goes a begging
Missed opportunity: Paul Mannion (top) and Cormac Costello show their frustration after a goal chance goes a begging

Much of the speculation prior to Dublin's Leinster Championship semi-final against Kildare on Sunday centred on whether the Lilies would be helped or hindered by having to play their third competitive match on successive weekends.

By the final whistle, it was difficult to ascertain whether that made one iota of difference as Dublin eased home by 15 points in as comfortable a semi-final victory as we have witnessed over their recent dominance of the province.

Despite the ease of their win, there were obvious issues in terms of their performance at both ends of the field with former Dublin attacker Kieran Duff feeling that Dublin delivered a mixed bag of a display.

"I suppose that at the end of the day, Dublin would have to be quite satisfied with how Sunday's game went.

"It was far from the most perfect performance that we have ever seen from them but they still managed to cruise through the game in second gear. There wasn't one stage when they were ever in trouble in terms of the result.


"They really didn't break sweat over the 70-plus minutes and maybe that lack of intensity was responsible for the number of errors that they made over the course of the game.

"Certainly, there was some sloppy handling at times and the wrong option was taken more than you would like, but that can happen to a team when the result is never in doubt.

"I think that if you are looking for positives from the game than you would not have to look any further than Cormac Costello, who looks like he is bringing some much-needed consistency to his game.

"His talent has never been in question but we have never seen him make a concerted impression in the championship until this year.

"Of course, there are far tougher challenges down the line for both Costello and Dublin but you would have to be pleased with what he has done so far, both against Louth and Kildare.

"He finished the game with five points from play and he stepped up to the plate in terms of open play and placed balls. You can be sure that there are tougher days ahead and Dublin will need him to reproduce those displays on the bigger stage.

"Paul Mannion was another forward that impressed as he added seven points from play and I think the right decision was made in overturning the red card that he received against Louth.

"He seems to drift nicely into games and reads it very well and while Ciaran Kilkenny and Con O'Callaghan both scores three points apiece, it would be healthy from a Dublin perspective if there were a few more forwards contributing on the scoreboard," said the Fingallians clubman.


Duff's slight concerns with the forward line are magnified when discussing some of the defensive play that threatened to undermine their control on Sunday.

The Lilywhites left at least three genuine goalscoring chances behind them. On his 100th championship appearance, Stephen Cluxton denied Ben McCormack and Keith Cribbin with good saves in either half, while McCormack sent another opportunity for a green flag wide shortly after the restart.

Those opportunities are more likely to be gobbled up the further you advance in the championship with the two-time All-Star worried about the latitude given to the Kildare forward line.

"I don't think there's any doubt that there were some alarming gaps in the Dublin defence and a better or more composed attack than Kildare's could well have taken advantage.

"I didn't like the way that both Michael Fitzsimons and Cian O'Sullivan were exposed behind them and while I appreciate that there are players to come back in, it's not an ideal situation for Dublin to be dealing with.

"Of course, Jonny Cooper's return will strengthen the defence but he needs games under his belt and I'm not sure why we only saw Rory O'Carroll introduced as late as the 65th minute.

"I would have thought that Sunday's match would have been the perfect chance to get some game time into him, especially when you consider that the game was over as a contest by the three quarter mark.


In terms of not scoring goals despite the dominance that they enjoyed, Duff wouldn't be too concerned about that lack of cutting thrust in the goal market and is hopeful that a Leinster final joust against Meath will offer Dublin a greater challenge than what they experienced two days' ago.

"I wouldn't be worried too much about the lack of goals as when Dublin generally need to get one, they usually find a way and that may well be the case against Meath in the Leinster final.

"It will be good for Dublin to have that challenge and while the rivalry is there in terms of the supporters and the tradition between the counties, it's probably fair to say that it doesn't really exist between the players.

"On the other side of the coin, it's going to be a great challenge for Meath to see where they stand against the best team in the country and hopefully, the intensity will be of the level we're used to when these two meet," he said.

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