The long-serving defender was dropped for last Saturday’s qualifier win over Laois and was not among the four subs introduced at O’Moore Park, even though regular full-back Peter Kelly was sidelined through injury.
It was confirmed yesterday that Carton had walked away from the Dublin set-up ahead of Saturday’s qualifier against Limerick at Thurles and Kelleher believes blame must be placed at Cunningham’s doorstep.
“Michael, after Alan McCrabbe earlier this year, is the second member of the Dublin panel who has walked away in 2015. It is a very disappointing development,” said Kelleher.
“I can understand Michael’s sentiments as to why he walked. I think he was hard done by against Galway in the replay, when he was thrown in at full-back. Michael, in all his hurling days, has been at half-back. He does not fit the full-back mould. After last weekend, where Ger brought in Shane Barrett at left-half back and Michael didn’t get in at all, he probably saw the writing on the wall and realised he was no longer in favour.
“Dublin will need physical strength in their defence on Saturday, because Limerick are very strong. It is not a day to be trying out inexperienced guys. It is a day for the hardened player, who has been involved for many years, as Michael has been. It is sad that he has gone and I think Dublin will rue his loss.
“Young [Shane] Barrett is only 19, he is still learning his trade. Against Laois he was found wanting a couple of times. Cha Dwyer scored three points from play off him and, if the same happens against Limerick, that will be catastrophic for Dublin.”
Kelleher has been baffled by a multitude of decisions taken by the Dublin manager during the county’s two most recent championship outings and he accused the Cork native of being “naive” in his first inter-county post.
“I don’t think Ger can be too happy with some of the decisions he has taken this year. Needless to say, the big one was moving Liam Rushe up to the forwards. He was badly needed to shore up the defence against Galway in the replay. Ger only saw fit to move him back when the game was over. Mind-boggling stuff. Playing Conal Keaney at wing-back against Galway when he no longer has the pace for that position was unwise.
“More importantly, the tactics Ger has been adopting have not been good. Laois picked off eight points as a result of Dublin’s short puck-out strategy and their insistence on trying to walk the ball out of defence. There are a number of issues you couldn’t be happy with.”
Kelleher laments the unsettled nature of the Dublin team and believes, ultimately, it will contribute to their championship exit.
“The time to tinker with your team is the league, not the championship. Ger started Cian Boland last Saturday night and he wasn’t up to it. He left him on until the final five minutes. Dotsy O’Callaghan came on in his place and he put the ball in the back of the net. It does the likes of Cian Boland no good at all to be left on the field for that length of time. You don’t give the likes of Boland and Barrett championship starts in the middle of July, it just doesn’t work.
“Remember back to the 2007 All-Ireland final when Limerick brought in Seamus Hickey and Eddie Brennan gave him a torrid time. League is the time for blooding younger players.
“Another decision I couldn’t understand was taking off David Treacy for Paul Ryan when Dublin were awarded their second penalty of the Galway defeat and then taking Paul Ryan off later in the game. What does that say to a player? I feel there is a lot to be learned there for Ger and he has shown a bit of naivety at this level of management.”