Blues wide of mark as Cork nick it
Daly bemoans wastefulness in Parnell Park as loss leaves Blues deep in relegation mire
Monday March 29 2010
AFTER their disaster in Tullamore a couple of weeks back, Anthony Daly cut a beleaguered figure as he wondered aloud how his team had gone from nine-point victors over Tipperary to the depths of the performance against Offaly within a week.
Consistency, he reckoned, wasn’t easily attainable for Dublin.
Yesterday, back in Parnell Park, his team finally put back-to-back performances together but again came up marginally short against one of the summertime big boys.
This time Cork came and plundered two points, 0-17 to 1-11 the scoreline, but the disappointment for Dublin will revolve around the number of scoring chances the spurned in a game they could have easily won.
Nine first-half wides, another six in the second half and a couple of excellent goal chances spurned before Alan McCrabbe finally netted a scorcher in the last minute to give Dublin a faint flicker of hope.
“Crazy wides,” Anthony Daly described them. “To be going in down at half-time, it was hard to pick it up but, Janey, they did in fairness to them.
“They kept believing right to the end and who knows, if we could have caught that last puck out from Gary (Maguire), might got a free or something and we’d all go home happy with a draw.”
As it transpired, Cork won possession and fired over two injury-time points, from substitute Luke O’Farrell and the impressive Pat Horgan.
Horgan’s wizardry was one of the chief highlights of a game played significantly below championship pace. The Glen Rovers man scored six points from play and looked capable of winning the game on his own.
Which was just as well for Cork, because the rest of their forwards were rendered largely ineffective by a stern and forceful Dublin rearguard action.
True, Cathal Naughton clipped a point in each half but the Dublin half-back unit of Stephen Hiney, Maurice O’Brien and, in particular, Joey Boland won all their individual battles comprehensively.
Further back, Tomás Brady did a robust and skillful man-marking job on Michael Cussen, significantly limiting the Rebel bounty from an aerial bombardment.
“Those things are fairly unpredictable in life,” noted Cork manager Denis Walsh.
“I just had a word with him (Cussen) there and told him it will be his day again. We have plenty of options and a bit of ammunition. If Michael Cussen isn’t doing it then hopefully someone else will.”
Dublin, though, had their own problems in attack. That five of Anthony Daly’s starting six forwards (Alan McCrabbe was the only one spared) were replaced by the end says it all.
In fact, David Treacy’s early point was the only material return coming from those five as the Blues- squandermania told hold from early on.
David O’Callaghan, Treacy and McCrabbe all missed decent opportunities for points at a time when Cork had yet to settle and Dublin could, and perhaps should, have been heavily in front by half-time. That said, they struggled to win any clean ball in their half-forward line and Daly began to rotate his attacking alignment by the end of the first-half.
By the 67th minute O’Callaghan, Treacy, Liam Ryan, Liam Rushe and Peter Kelly had all been replaced.
Dublin went five points down early in the second half, Horgan hitting two beauties to kick off the half, but the need for a Dublin goal took hold possibly a bit early.
Rushe, who enjoyed a mini purple patch midway through the second half, broke through but couldn’t get any great force behind his shot, while substitute Simon Lambert blazed a shot just wide to the right of Donal Óg Cusack’s goal.
“Rushey went for one there and maybe should have tapped it over,” reckoned Daly. “Just in the immediate aftermath it’s hard to think of them. If the goal came a bit earlier, maybe, but it’s ifs and buts and maybes.”
The introduction of Paul Ryan added some vigour to the Dublin attack and he claimed two points for himself before setting up McCrabbe’s goal — as fine a score as will be seen this year.
The Ballyboden man won a long ball and flicked it over his shoulder into space and the stride of McCrabbe. The sliotar bounced perfectly for Dublin’s All Star who swung first time and buried it into the top corner of Cusack’s net.
“Sure look, the last two days (against Cork and Kilkenny), if we played like that in Tullamore, but that’s gone, that’s no good either,” reckoned Daly as he weighed up the positives from a third straight loss.
“Tullamore is gone now and you can’t get it back. We’ve got to up to Salthill and try to show a bit of bottle and a bit of balls down there, and let’s see if we catch a bit of a break.”
The chief ramification of defeat for Dublin now is that relegation is looking more and more a possibility. Whatever about Salthill, a win against Limerick in Parnell Park in their last game is a must.
“We’ll keep battling now,” he promised. “We have another tough one next week — look, the pressure’s on a bit. But it’s probably going to go down to the wire.”
– Conor McKeon