02 APRIL 2013 10:40 AM
WE gave him man of the match against Antrim and Offaly. Only Niall McMorrow’s two goals deprived him of the same honour in Parnell Park on Sunday while against Limerick, he and Danny Sutcliffe were Dublin’s best performers. He wasn’t in the running for the gong against Wexford only because he didn’t play but his consistency and excellence in two contrasting positions has been one of the highlights of Dublin’s campaign thus far.
THE inside forward line, Paul Ryan aside, has been an area of flux for Dublin over the past couple of years but the one certainty was a fully fit and in-form Dosty would walk in and thrive. His 1-3 against Wexford gave more credence to the theory that he is back close to his elusive best and, for that, Anthony Daly can only be thankful.
ONE against Offaly, none against Limerick in Croke Park . . . two games where the lack of goals hurt Dublin badly. To prove that exact point, the three that fell neatly onto their laps against Antrim left Dublin comfortable from an early point, despite not being particularly better than the Saffrons.
Since that, they’ve hit six in two games, taking sensible options up front, not forcing the issue or passing up high percentage point chances in favour of low percentage goal opportunities.
FOR a team attempting to the rid themselves of the psychological debris of last year, the Limerick defeat and its nature might have been a perfect crisis-in-the-making, particularly with a potentially tricky trip to Wexford just eight days later. Instead, they embraced the pressure, got stuck into Wexford, wiped them completely in their own ground, thus dragging themselves back into promotion contention.
They’ve also won six of their seven competitive matches this season, surely a run with nutritional benefits for the team’s psyche.
AND FOUR AREAS OF CONCERN
WING-forward or centre-back? That’s the big question Anthony Daly has to answer to himself about Keaney this week. And by association, whither Liam Rushe? Midfield or centre-back or, indeed, back to the forwards for the former Young Hurler of the Year?
Is Johnny McCaffrey a centre-forward for that matter? Is Paul Schutte or Peter Kelly the more effective full-back? Sure, the league is all about finding these answers through experimentation but Saturday is the first match of Dublin’s season with long-term consequences and there are at least as many questions about Daly’s best 15 as there were at the season’s beginning.
THIRTEEN wides. A grim figure and a regressive statistic. A baker’s dozen of errant shots at goal from Dublin forwards in the first half against Carlow with the wind at their backs. It improved considerably after the break, especially when Paul Ryan came on but, in total, Dublin took just 51.4pc of their scoring opportunities.
It’s not a new failing either. Against Limerick, Dublin converted 51.6pc, butchering five good-to-excellent goal chances in the process.
In fairness – and as Daly pointed out on Sunday – that figure rose to just under 71pc in the Wexford game and the suspicion, with Ryan and O’Callaghan restored to starting spots, that Dublin will veer towards those levels again will, no doubt, be an area for specific work this week.
ALAN Nolan is a more-than-capable deputy for Gary Maguire but a missing All Star is a missing All Star just the same, and the Ballyboden net minder’s shot-stopping abilities have saved Dublin in big games more than once in the recent past.
Against that, Nolan has a longer puck-out than Maguire and pretty much ever other ‘keeper in Ireland and clever utilisation of Dublin’s half-forward line could yet work to their advantage.
THEY took their time about warming up but Graeme Mulcahy scored 1-3 against Dublin in Croke Park. Tony Hannon bagged 0-9 (6f) and won most puck-outs aimed at him while Kevin Downes helped himself to 0-4. And though he didn’t show it much that night, Shane Dowling is another serious operator and very real threat for Limerick.
Whether a redoubling of efforts or a change of scenery are required from Dublin is arguable. Stephen Hiney and Oisín Gough both played well for Dublin against Carlow at the weekend but Daly might just feel both haven’t enough game time to justify selection next Saturday.