The Dubs’old failing of losing big at times returned to haunt them on Saturday when they leaked 5-19 to Galway in their Leinster championship replay tie, 3-10 of that tally arriving in the first 19 minutes.
The qualifier route now beckons and with three of the four All-Ireland semi-finalists from two years ago — Dublin, Clare and Cork — already knocked out of their provinces, an epic struggle awaits.
Full-back Carton said Dublin are hurting right now but he was adamant they retain serious Liam MacCarthy Cup ambitions.
“Absolutely, definitely,” he said. “We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think we could win the All-Ireland. That’s obviously still the aim but we’ve got to get over the next game first and see where that leaves us.
“I suppose we’ll see what the team’s made of now. We’ve four weeks to see what Dublin hurling is all about so we’ll find out the answer to that in four weeks’ time.” Asked if he believes the Galway game will ultimately derail Dublin’s summer, Carton shook his head again.
“Absolutely not. We can’t wait to get out and play again and prove we’re better than that.” Dublin have achieved some great gains in recent seasons, beating Kilkenny in competitive league and Championship games and hammering Galway in the 2013 Leinster final.
But they’ve hit the rocks with alarming regularity too, ending the 2014 Championship with 12- and 13-point defeats. The cycle has continued under Ger Cunningham this year with Dublin reaching the league semi-finals where they blew a huge lead over Cork who previously scored 34 points against them in the group stage.
“The one thing we’ve been trying to do all year is to be consistent and to be competitive and to not have those swings and those situations where you’re up one day and down the next day,” said Dubs manager Cunningham.
“I think we’ve been successful enough all year in relation to that concept. It’s just the first 20 minutes at the weekend, we were just blitzed really.”
Cunningham refused to blame the fact that the Galway replay was the third match in a week for several U-21 players who also lost to Kilkenny last Tuesday evening. But he did attack the timing of the U-21 game generally.
“Asking guys to play three matches in six days particularly just after exams was crazy stuff,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dublin football midfielder Denis Bastick has emerged as an injury concern. The two-time All-Ireland medallist is currently using crutches after straining his ankle in a club game.
“I rolled my ankle on Saturday playing with the club,” said the Templeogue-Synge Street man. “I do have to get it looked at but I should be okay, I have been through worse. I had the crutches at home, they’re handy just to keep the weight off it.”
*Carton, Cunningham and Bastick were speaking at the launch of Toyota’s ‘Summer Showtime’ promotion. Dealers are offering a trade-in allowance of up to €3,000 on cars registered by July 31 or three years free servicing on cars ordered by June 19.