herald

Friday 21 September 2018

Jim alters backs in defence of the realm

Dublin's Eoin Murchan
Dublin's Eoin Murchan

JIm Gavin had been a model of consistency in his summer team selections - up until Saturday night.

Apart from Stephen Cluxton's injury- enforced absence against Laois, he had chosen the same '15' three games running.

Yet for Dublin's Super 8 clash with Donegal, Cluxton's return was followed by three more changes in defence. Restoring Jack McCaffrey and Cian O'Sullivan was expected given their need for more game-time after long lay-offs.

Eoin Murchan's promotion for a first SFC start was more out of left-field - and he couldn't have faced a more challenging task, tracking Ryan McHugh.

Clearly, Gavin had faith in Murchan's lightning pace to combat Donegal's elusive No 7, who spent the entire game in attack. And even though McHugh kicked two points (the first an outrageous effort while running towards the Cusack Stand) Murchan could be well satisfied with his full debut in blue.

Losing out in Dublin's reshuffle were Philly McMahon, Eric Lowndes and Paddy Andrews; the latter's omission freed up a place in attack for the relocated Brian Howard, who flourished at wing-forward.

"Just tactical decisions that we made, simple as that," said Gavin when asked about his switches.

Meanwhile, Donegal's persistence with playing Michael Murphy around midfield instead of full-forward drew the predictable ire of Joe Brolly.

However, the RTÉ's pundit's depiction of the skipper as "a liability" in the role beggared belief, given his 0-2 from play.

It also ignored the reality of Donegal's lack of options in the engine-room and need to have Murphy there in the first place.

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