Rebels next to fall?
Gilroy's Dubs have latest league hex in their sights
WHATEVER Dublin achieve in this year's league and beyond, they can at least take some solace from having already broken a couple of long-running away day hexes. Pat Gilroy's young guns created history in Killarney last month, delivering Dublin their first victory on Kerry soil since November 1982 and followed that trick up a couple of weeks back in Mayo, taking full league points in Castlebar -- a first victory there since 1992.
On Saturday, Dublin's longest running top flight hoodoo -- that of Cork -- is next in line for the sky blue treatment. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, for those who keep a close eye on the Dubs at this time of year, the Rebel curse runs much deeper than those cast by Kerry and Mayo.
You've to go back to November 1981 for a last league win on Leeside soil, a time when Heffo's Army were in transition somewhere between the All-Ireland-winning sides of 1976 and '77 and the yet-to-be-won 1983 Sam Maguire. A certain 'W Morgan' played in goals for the Rebels that day, according to match reports, while Dubs centre-forward Brian Jordan got the only goal of the game in a less than epic 1-5 to 0-6 win for the Boys in Blue.
Little did they know, another Leeside conquest would take at least another 29 years -- and still counting.
Since then, Dublin have suffered 10 defeats and just a single draw in football's secondary competition, with a couple of decent hidings sprinkled around just for good measure.
There have been a couple of exceptions to the Cork jinx, though they all come equipped with an asterisk. Dublin took both points from their 2008 fixture but never took the field to earn them -- the then rumbling Cork strike saving Pillar Caffrey's men the trip.
A draw in 1988 is the best Dublin have mustered in the league in Ireland's second city since then, though there was that famous All-Ireland semi-final replay hammering back in 1983.
Bar those few glitches in the Cork armoury, it's been a barren, pointless trip for Dublin, particularly so when the fixture has been played in the venue for Saturday's clash -- Páirc Uí Rinn. Thrice Dublin have travelled to Cork's second home since 1999.
"We always found it hard going to Cork," says former Dublin senior selector, Brian Talty, who stood on the sidelines for the most recent reversals in Páirc Uí Rinn in 2005 and '06. "Cork are hard to beat. I couldn't put my finger on why Dublin don't win down there. Whether it's travelling or whatever? You'd be scratching your head wondering why you couldn't beat Cork in Cork."
Talty watched them come closest, though, in March 2006 when Caffrey's Dubs went down by just a point, 1-11 to 1-10. It was a marked improvement on the previous season when Morgan's men hammered Dublin by 0-18 to 1-6.
Before that, Tommy Carr's Dubs were beaten by 0-10 to 0-7 in March 1999. Three players were sent off, including Paul Croft, who earned a three-month suspension for his trouble and missed the start of the championship. The loss didn't hinder Carr's men making the league final, however. Though the fact that the decider was against Cork, in Cork (Páirc Uí Chaoimh this time) probably hindered Carr's chances of landing a National title that season.
"You always went out to win but I think we had a greater emphasis on championship," says Talty. "We would always have considered Cork a very good team and playing them in their home ground. They're rarely beaten down there."
Dublin's attempt on Saturday to make it three successful away trips from three will, according to Talty, make "interesting viewing".
"There seems to be a huge emphasis on the league this year," reckons Talty.
"They're putting an awful lot into it and getting a new pattern of play. They're getting their new system up and running and working hard. I would always be of the opinion that winning breeds winning and success breeds success and confidence. I think the way they're playing, they're going to be hard to beat. They're hard to play against. Their work-rate is unbelievable. The system works well in Parnell Park and on smaller pitches but there is a system going. It will be interesting to see against Cork."