Ray Cosgrove sees the positives in Dublin’s league final loss

Former Dublin forward Ray Cosgrove is convinced the county will be the better for their Division 1 defeat to Kerry, as their unbeaten run was beginning to burden them.
Ray Cosgrove sees the positives in Dublin’s league final loss

The 2002 All-Star sensed the impressive record could have hurt them even at the most unlikeliest of junctures in the championship.

He told his fellow Kilmacud Crokes man and current Dublin player Paul Mannion just as much before Sunday’s game.

“I had lunch with Paul a couple of weeks ago, I was getting a jersey signed, and I said to him: ‘The sooner you guys get beaten the better, because the longer it goes the more weight it will carry and the media will be hanging onto every game as match 38, 39, whatever, and you’ll get caught when you’re not expecting it.’

"Yes, it’s disappointing to lose and I’m sure the guys feel that, but in the greater scheme of things, when they look back, they’ll be happier to be beaten in April than late summer.

“When you go 700-odd days being unbeaten, an air of complacency can come into the mindset. Fellas say they don’t read the newspapers, but you go to work or you’re talking to your neighbours and fellas are clapping you on the back and saying: ‘36 games — how many days is that?’

"Subconsciously, it does sink it and it does take its toll. The air of invincibility is now gone, but it was a kind of chequered league campaign for Dublin and they probably should have been beaten by Tyrone. The Dubs were a little fortuitous but there’s a monkey off the back now and doing the three-in-a-row is more important than five league titles in a row.”

Cosgrove believes Diarmuid Connolly will learn from his second black card in the space of a week, even though it puts him on the precipice of a cumulative ban for the rest of the season.

“He’s enough between the lugs to move on and take the lesson. He’ll be disappointed that he pulled young [Gavin] Crowley down. He kicked a great point earlier and was going well and he would have had an impact on the game. It was a silly thing to do, but it’s something he and the management team can work on. His disciplinary record is chequered and it’s an aspect of his game that he does need to keep in check.

“He’ll get a lot of attention now for the club over the next few weeks and he’ll have to get over that, but he can ignore it. If you’re going to pick up a black card, pick one up like Anthony Maher did. His was a super black card, on reflection, whereas Diarmuid’s was a senseless one.

“It’s definitely something that the boys like Jayo [Sherlock] and Deccie [Darcy] will address, as he would have let down the group as a whole when there was only a kick of a ball in it at the end. He just has to let his football do the talking, because he’s too good a player to be sitting up in the Hogan Stand. I’m sure [Kerry manager Éamonn] Fitzmaurice was delighted to see him coming across the pitch after half an hour. It made his job a little bit easier.”

Cosgrove was alarmed that Dublin were only able to name one out-and-out defender on the bench on Sunday in the form of Davy Byrne, though Niall Scully is also adept in the half-back line. Injuries to Jonny Cooper, Jack McCaffrey and John Small had reduced the back options for Jim Gavin.

“Where were the rest of the O’Byrne Cup lads that made an impact? That was something that did concern me.”

That Dublin coughed up 20 points was the other worrying statistic for Cosgrove.

“It’s a lot from a Dublin perspective. You’re going to lose a lot of games conceding 20 points. Dublin will be a different kettle of fish when you introduce the three boys to the defence, but reviewing the tape, Jim and the boys will know that’s a lot to concede. Five of the Kerry starting forwards scored.”

As a forward, there were elements of the loss that also drew his attention.

“Paul [Flynn] was quiet by his standards. Obviously, he scored 1-6 against Roscommon, but he didn’t put in the same sort of shift. Bernard was kept scoreless and Paddy Andrews was kept scoreless. That would have to be a slight concern.

"Paul [Mannion] made a massive impact when he came on. I’ve seen Paul over the years and we haven’t seen the best of him since 2013. The year away in China set him back a bit, but that [the final] was a glimpse of what he can do and what we were accustomed to when he broke onto the scene.”

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