We all appreciate the draw the Dublin footballers are, the hold they have in the psyche of Dublin supporters, but let’s be honest, having Dublin-Galway as a curtain-raiser yesterday was a joke. They’re both Division One teams. They were Leinster champions in 2012 and 2013.
With all respect to Longford, they’re a Division 4 side. Putting them on as the main event was an insult to the hurlers, especially Dublin.
The Leinster Council were obviously concerned that the football crew would walk out en masse if that game was on first. A lot of them might, but a fair share would have stayed on, especially if they’d hung around for the first half when the game was so tight.
As expected, the football match was a rout. I heard Mossy Quinn say on radio that it was effectively over after five minutes. What message does that really transmit to Dublin hurling?
The hurling game was no classic but it was still an intriguing match. Danny Sutcliffe’s performance almost encapsulated its nature. Danny got three excellent points, his man was taken off, but he could have had seven points, he overplayed the ball at times, other occasions made decisions you never associate with Danny. That mixed bag held a mirror to the match.
I accept Joe Canning went into the match with a hand injury but he was the biggest disappointment. If you didn’t know anything about hurling, you’d have said after yesterday’s game Mark Schutte was the marquee forward on show.
I don’t know what it is with Joe. He looks like a guy who isn’t enjoying his hurling anymore. I didn’t think his workrate was anywhere near good enough yesterday.
Is he burned out? Has he ever been the same player since his brother Ollie left the panel a few years back? Has that impacted on his performances and attitude?
If he has lost a yard of pace and is frustrated inside full-forward, Galway might be better off to play him out midfield and see if he can influence the match from that position. Anthony Cunningham and his management can only do so much to ignite the fire in his heart, and Joe needs to look inside for that missing spark.
Both managers will know there is much more in the tank but they will also acknowledge that they could have been sharper on the line too. Dublin were very conservative in making changes. Galway were more proactive but I couldn’t believe they left Johnny Coen on Mark Schutte for 35 minutes when he was struggling. Johnny had a great game when released to the corner.
Conal Keaney has been a super servant to Dublin hurling but I think it’s asking a lot of him to play centre-back at this stage of his career. Cyril Donnellan only scored two points but he could have been man-of-the-match if he had converted the amount of possession he won while on Conal.
Peter Kelly’s injury will pose more headaches around the centre of Dublin’s defence but some of those concerns have been allayed by Mikey Carton’s display. He really steadied the defence when leadership was needed. I was delighted too for David Treacy that his late missed free didn’t cost Dublin because he had an excellent game. He was central to Dublin’s gameplan. He moved out the field and left space on top of the left for Mark Schutte to flourish in that zone.
It worked but it must have been very infuriating for Dotsy O’Callaghan in the other corner. Dotsy saw very little ball and I’m sure he’d have fancied himself with more possession on John Hanbury.
Mikey’s presence will surely sign Shane Durkin’s release papers to the wing because he’s more comfortable there. Shane has pace but he was burned a couple of times by Cathal Mannion, which shows how fast Mannion really is. Mannion’s four points from play was critical.
Jason Flynn was well marshalled by Cian O’Callaghan but Flynn still had chances. Galway could have had a bag of goals but they only took one and the commanding position they surrendered so quickly after Joseph Cooney’s goal showed they’re still missing that assassin mentality.
Dublin have the same issues. When they were three points ahead in the second half, they never drove on.
I saw Brian Cody in the stands yesterday and he won’t have been that happy to see both teams get another day out. The winner will benefit from the extra game and the momentum and confidence that comes with it. Galway have big men up front but, pound for pound, Dublin are probably a stronger team and will be better suited to the tight confines of O’Connor Park on Saturday evening. Liam Rushe, who was massive in the second half, Ryan O’Dwyer, Treacy and Mark Schutte are all big men too.
It will be another curtain-raiser but I wouldn’t have any issues with that; Laois-Kildare is a TV game on Sky Sports which has been fixed for ages. But the Leinster Council had a chance to make a statement yesterday. And they blew it.