DUBLIN v ANTRIM
(Parnell Park, Tomorrow 2.0)
ANTHONY DALY isn’t quite revisiting the scene of the crime tomorrow afternoon, but it must feel that way.
Six months ago, his team (and arguably management too) were caught napping at the wheel in Croke Park — with fatal consequences for their 2010 championship ambitions.
Six points up on Antrim with 20 minutes remaining, Dublin somehow conspired to lose by a point and see a quarter-final berth slip away.
It was galling on so many fronts, partly because Antrim didn’t even have to hurl up a storm to catch them.
Only in the closing minutes did the Saffrons sense a prized scalp was there for the taking, by which stage Dublin had lost all momentum.
Rumour has it that the word “Antrim” has been exhorted many times by Daly since the Dubs resumed training, and it’s safe to surmise that motivation won’t be a problem for tomorrow’s competitive start to the New Year.
Most of the attention is sure to focus on Conal Keaney, making his return to big time small ball after devoting the past six years exclusively to Dublin’s footballers. Such a lengthy spell away from elite action means that miracles cannot be expected of the erstwhile Great White Hope of Dublin hurling.
But his high-level involvement with Ballyboden, coupled with his obvious determination to make this second coming work, should ensure that Keaney has a big role to play this spring. Even more so now that Alan McCrabbe has been ruled out for the entire National League.
As for tomorrow, it may have been unfortunate for Dublin to lose one winning position against Antrim, but to do so twice would be downright careless.
ODDS: Dublin 1/4, Draw 10/1, Antrim 3/1