Then again, it was Dublin’s only genuine threat on the Galway goal last Sunday.
Then again, the lack of a goal marked their third time in the team’s last four championship games that they have a zero alongside the first digit beside their name on the scoreline.
Even when Dublin have found the net in the summer, it’s usually been just the once in a match. You have to go back to the 2013 Leinster final to find the last time they scored more than one goal in a championship game.
Ger Cunningham is but one SHC game into his tenure but factor in Dublin’s league run this year and it doesn’t appear there has been that much of a departure from Anthony Daly’s time in terms of raising green flags.
This isn’t the first time you’ve read about Dublin’s lack of a goal-threat in this newspaper. Twelve months ago, Dónal Óg Cusack aired his concerns about precisely the same subject. Stressing the need for an out-and-out goalscorer, he wrote: “Dublin have lost nine championship matches under Daly. Apart from last year’s (2013) All-Ireland semi-final with Cork, they have scored less goals than the opposition in each those games. Cork and Dublin scored a goal apiece in last year’s clash. In other words they have never lost a championship game under Daly when they have scored more goals than the opposition.”
That truism ended when Kilkenny’s 24 points were more than good enough to the 1-9 Dublin offered in return in last year’s Leinster final although that trend recommenced when Dublin didn’t much trouble the Tipperary net in the subsequent All-Ireland quarter-final, John O’Dwyer scored a brace of goals.
Explosiveness and ruthlessness are simply two words that are not associated with Dublin. Since 2010, they have failed to find the net in over a third of their league and championship games. Tipperary, in comparison, have scored a goal in 55 of their 65 matches. Kilkenny an almost as impressive 57 in 68 games.
Of the top nine hurling counties last year, Dublin had the second worst goal-scoring return, their average of 1.1 goals per game behind all their peers apart from Waterford who managed a paltry 0.7 average.
Cunningham may be in the infancy of his management in the capital but it appears like Daly he is illustrating Dublin have an inherent difficulty with scoring goals. You have to go back to 2005 to the last time the county scored more than one goal in two consecutive games and even at that they were against Laois and Offaly.
As has been observed before last Sunday but just as evident against Galway, forwards’ first movements tend to be away from the goal as a means of creating space for a shot at a point. In Mark Schutte and Cronin to a lesser extent, they have direct forwards who aren’t afraid to take on their men and hone in on goal but they are in a minority. Ryan O’Dwyer is not a scoring forward. Liam Rushe is a converted defender. Danny Sutcliffe is a distance point-taker while the Davids, Treacy and O’Callaghan, are more point merchants too.
Cunningham won’t lose heart. He’s used to teams not known for their goal-scoring prowess. The Cork side with whom he was a selector and helped coach to an All-Ireland title in 2005 registered five goals in five games. Forgetting their Kerry game the previous triumphant season, it was the same return for Cork — five goal, five games. Primary coach under Jimmy Barry-Murphy when they reached the 2013 All-Ireland final, Cork managed a single goal in four outings to reach the decider.
Dublin’s situation appears acuter than Cork’s, all the same. “Take the points and the goals will come”— one can only guess how many times Dublin’s hurlers have heard that one.