Banner torn up by Dubs
Dublin’s Conal Keaney. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
CONOR MCKEON – 24 FEBRUARY 2014 03:30 PM
NEWTON’S third law of motion states that, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
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Seemingly, the same applies to the Dublin hurlers.
Last week, they went to Galway and stunk the place out. Pearse Stadium nearly had to be fumigated after they left.
Yesterday, they beat Clare by 2-17 to 0-17 in Parnell Park and, afterwards, Anthony Daly’s only gripe was that his team might have enhanced their scoring difference were they a little more clinical.
“These league games, they’re not all they’re … ah, they’re funny,” laughed the Dublin manager afterwards of a division where every team now has two points and all six matches have been won by the home side.
“We missed a few chances to make it a bit more comfortable for ourselves, but Clare probably targeted last week something savage. At home to Kilkenny …
“And it’s hard then to be 100 per cent tuned in for the following week. And maybe we smelled an advantage there.”
If the vagaries in those two displays can be explained by the proximity in the calendar, at least Daly and Dublin can now escape all the déjà vu/2012 talk.
Certainly, the degree of Dublin’s supremacy over the All-Ireland champions and last week’s Kilkenny conquerors wasn’t fully reflected in their final winning margin.
A week ago, Daly bemoaned the woeful performances of his “big guns”.
Yesterday, those same men were the ones that informed Clare pretty early into their Sunday afternoon that, this week, Dublin would be playing as close to their best as February allows.
“You could see Liam Rushe, f**k, no matter what we tried to do … we tried to keep the ball away from him in the second half completely, but he was just ending up coming over behind the breaks,” said Davy Fitzgerald afterwards.
“He had a great game today. It’s great when you have one of those games, so it is. Balls every place you go. He wasn’t good last week, outstanding today. Fair play to him.”
Peter Kelly, another of the chronic underperformers in Galway, ate Shane O’Donnell without salt.
Conal Keaney, sent off last Sunday, hit 1-3 in a performance which suggested pretty strongly that perhaps full-forward is a more useful space for his talents.
He won his battle with Cian Dillon hands down, won lots of ball, and sent others into profitable gaps.
Danny Sutcliffe was another to excel, winning puck-outs and using possession well.
Ditto Shane Durkin, who hit a couple of nice points from wing-back to boot.
And Alan McCrabbe’s first start for Dublin in over a year can be classed as a complete success, play-making from centre-forward, hitting eight frees and a beautiful sideline cut.
But in general, Dublin were far, far better than Clare.
They devoured puck-outs from both goalkeepers and, if they didn’t quite bully their opponents physically, they certainly got the better of the meatier exchanges.
The aforementioned Rushe set the tone as much as any player, catching three Clare puck-outs inside the first 15 minutes.
And from all that possession, Dublin went 1-6 to 0-2 up after 15 minutes when Johnny McCaffrey put Keaney in for Dublin’s first goal.
McCrabbe, meanwhile, ensured that Paul Ryan’s free-taking abilities weren’t especially missed. Dublin went in 1-12 to 0-10 ahead at half-time, with John Conlon the only Clare forward to score from play in the opening passage.
And at one stage of the second half, just after Colm Cronin scored off a peach of a pass from McCrabbe that was shovelled into the net by the Cuala debutant, Dotsy O’Callaghan hit the crossbar with a drive from 20 yards and, had he instead found the net, Dublin would have gone 11 points clear.
Instead, they ran slightly out of puff, but never allowed Clare within sniffing distance of the couple of goals they needed to make a game of it.
“People have said the pitch wasn’t good and it was pretty poor. But that didn’t matter, we would have no complaints,” reflected a not exactly dejected Fitzgerald.
“Dublin were way hungrier than we were today.
“But I had a feeling, and I said it to one of the lads in there, ‘I bet you anything there’ll be six teams level after the weekend’.
“I just had that feeling that that’s the way it was going to work out.
“This is going to be a right tough league, so it will,” Fitzgerald concluded.