Mattie Kenny's Dublin have All-Ireland potential, despite what scoreline suggests

Mattie Kenny's Dublin have All-Ireland potential, despite what scoreline suggests

You might have noticed the scoreline of the Dublin-Laois Allianz NHL Division 1B encounter at the weekend and wondered if Dublin were improving at all under Mattie Kenny.

Dublin overcame Laois 0-13 to 0-11 in the second-tier of the league structure which may have seemed underwhelming, on the surface.

Nothing to shout home about, some will say.

However, if you dug deeper and read the reports from the game, it was apparent Kenny’s men displayed an amount of steel in the match that will serve them well later in the year.

In conditions that only favoured ducks, the sides engaged in an entrenched battle, one in which the eventual vanquished led 0-7 to 0-6 at half-time.

However, in the closing 20 minutes, Kenny’s outfit out-scored Laois 0-5 to 0-1.

Essentially, when it truly counted, Dublin stood up and found a way, pinpointing a route to the maximum points that were on offer from the clash.

And despite the not insignificant fact that it was a second-tier team they achieved that mini-objective against, that level of resolve, especially given the weather conditions, is not something we automatically associate with Dublin.

Yet, this particular project, Kenny leading the side that is, could develop into one of the more fascinating and enduring tales in recent times as it has so much potential.

Presently, they top Division 1B even if Galway and Waterford have played a game less than the Metropolitans in the section.

Nevertheless, four victories out of five engagements in the division thus far will have Kenny in a positive frame of mind as the knockout stages lurk around the corner.

Mattie Kenny's Dublin have All-Ireland potential, despite what scoreline suggests

However, what will please him more is the fact he will appreciate that Dublin hurling is potentially an unopen treasure chest.

Underage hurling in the county is thriving and in the next two or three seasons Dublin could make a real breakthrough at senior level and possibly reach an All-Ireland semi-final or, perhaps, even the final itself.

If you speak to people that know Kenny and how he operates as a manager, you will understand that Dublin could become a real force in the game once he has sufficient time to mould the group into the rigorous unit Dublin supporters seek.

Of course, Kenny has a lot of work on his hands as Dublin are starting from a relatively low base given what we have seen of them in the last few campaigns.

However, there remains this feeling that they are not far off cementing their place as a top-six side, at the very least, in the next two or three years.

People say that, for the code, it would be beneficial for Dublin to challenge on a more regular basis for honours.

That may well be true, but Kenny will appreciate that it is they that have to ensure such theories evolve into reality.

But he has the managerial tools to make Dublin a serious threat.

Anthony Daly, of course, did such a wonderful job for the Metropolitans that expectations soared as his tenure went on.

And you can see a similar situation developing again now that Kenny is at the helm.

The availability of Danny Sutcliffe certainly aids Kenny’s and Dublin’s cause as well. He scored 0-3 in open play against Laois and will be seen as their chief attacking weapon this term again.

Yet, aside from Sutcliffe, players like Sean Moran at centre-back are getting noticed for their contributions, too.

Liam Rushe started at full-forward last Sunday and despite not scoring, produced more evidence that he could really thrive in such a role in the Leinster SHC. After all, he is a powerful individual and one that could create and execute goalscoring opportunities in tight encounters whereby a green flag could prove to be the decisive score.

Regardless of how Dublin fare in the league quarter-final, theirs is one story everybody around the country will keep an eye on because of that potential we discussed earlier.

How far can Kenny take that potential is the $64m question. I would suggest quite far indeed, far enough to be considered potential All-Ireland finalists in the not-too-distant future.

Interestingly, Kevin McStay suggested, on RTÉ last Sunday night, that Meath and Kildare are narrowing the gap to Dublin, in football terms, obviously.

Mattie Kenny's Dublin have All-Ireland potential, despite what scoreline suggests

"You wouldn't, for a minute, say that Meath of five, six years ago were anywhere near the Meath of today," the ex-Roscommon manager said on RTE's Allianz League Sunday.

"They've been in Division 2 for a long, long time. They've really pointed the car for home now with that win. It looks like they will go up. I'm not saying they're going to beat Dublin or going to get within a point or two of them, but they are definitely going in the right direction, as are Kildare.

"Kildare are not out of the Division 2 race at all yet. They're definitely closing the gap. The confidence booster of getting back up to Division 1, if they can see it out and you fancy they would, is going to be good for them.

"Definitely, everything is going in the right direction and it's great to see it. No matter what happens now, the Leinster championship will have a little bit more sparkle to it.

"That's not to say they're going to take out Dublin any time soon but they are going in the right direction."

If McStay is right and Meath and Kildare are getting closer to Jim Gavin’s side, it will actually benefit Dublin heading into the All-Ireland series this year as they attempt to create history.

Slightly tougher matches in Leinster would probably be welcomed by Dublin.

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