If Sam doesn’t reside in Dublin next winter, the likelihood is that last week’s defeat to Tyrone will be pinpointed as the first blip when the season’s narrative is written, the first time Jim Gavin’s men revealed a chink in their armour.
Defeat has always been, and will continue to be, a convenient hook on which to hang accepted wisdoms. One of them, of course, is that old chestnut about defeat providing a better learning platform than victory but Gavin doesn’t sees things in such linear fashion.
“I wouldn’t buy into that,” said the Dublin manager ahead of today’s Allianz League Division 1 meeting with a struggling Down side at Croke Park. “We review quite clinically every performance, victory or defeat.
“What I am looking for is consistency in the performance and we haven’t got that yet in any of the games despite what the results were. Some of the finishing, we have worked on that during the week and hopefully we will see an improvement on that at the weekend.
“Our defensive structure as well was at times disorganised so it is incremental progress. We are with them just over four months now and we are just trying to build ourselves up to the first weekend in June.”
Two more league games and, barring a meltdown of mega proportions, a semi-final will demand their attention at the very least before the Dubs can concentrate on that Leinster championship meeting against either Westmeath or Carlow at HQ.
Down may appear to be the least daunting of the immediate assignments given their lowly status in the top flight yet James McCartan’s men have been unlucky not to harvest more points thus far and the Dubs are somewhat lighter than they would like on resources.
Ciaran Kilkenny and Rory O’Carroll are both unavailable due to injury. Alan Brogan, Eoghan O’Gara and Michael Fitzsimons are back training, but a few weeks away from competitive action, while Bernard Brogan and Paul Flynn haven’t trained all week.
Add to that the continued absence of the Ballymun Kickhams contingent — who should be back in the county saddle in time for the round seven trip to Omagh in a fortnight’s time — and Gavin clearly isn’t having everything his own way. Gavin said: “They’re coming down to Croke Park to play Dublin which is a motivation in itself and they need two points.”
Gavin is correct in his assertion that education is not dependent on the final scoreboard but the fact is last week’s defeat to Tyrone afforded the new manager some unwanted but ultimately useful insights into his options.
The absence of O’Carroll allowed him have a look at Cian O’Sullivan on the edge of the square, for example, while the inability to funnel the attack through Bernard Brogan, the country’s top scorer with 2-28 to his credit this year, was just as illuminating.
“The other forwards have been chipping in with scores along the way but it was good to see them rack up a good few scores without Bernard Brogan being there,” added Gavin.
Meanwhile, Limerick hurling manager John Allen has made two changes to the team to play Offaly tomorrow.
Corner-back Tom Condon is injured and Alan Dempsey, Na Piarsaigh, gets his chance, while in attack Niall Moran wins back his place at the expense of Shane Dowling.
KERRY (SF v Cork): B Kealy; M Ó Sé, M Griffin, S Enright; T Ó Sé, K Young, B McGuire; A Maher, J Buckley, J Lyne, D Walsh, K O’Leary; D O’Sullivan, K Donaghy, D O’Sullivan.
Subs: B Kelly, F Fitzgerald, P Galvin, P Crowley, J O’Donoghue; P Curtin, J Sherwood, M Geaney, M O’Donoghue, B Sheehan, C Cooper.
KERRY (SH v Kildare): B Rochford; P O’Keeffe, L Boyle, T Barrett; B Murphy, T Murnane, D O’Connell; J Griffin, D Collins; PJ Connolly, D Dineen, B O’Leary; W O’Dywer, A Boyle, S Nolan.
Subs: M Stackpoole, D Fitzell, P Boyle, S Maunsell, B Brosnan, D Walshe, R Horgan, J Leahy, C Harty, M O’Halloran, C Lynch.
LIMERICK (SH v Offaly): N Quaid; A Dempsey, R McCarthy, S Walsh; P O’Brien, W McNamara, G O’Mahony; P Brown, J Ryan; D Hannon, E Hickey, D Breen; K Downes, N Moran, G Mulcahy.
LIMERICK (SF v London): D O’Sullivan; D Quaid, J McCarthy, M O’Riordan; L O’Dwyer, P Brown, P Ranahan; T Lee, B O’Brien; S Lavin, S Buckley, J Riordan; E O’Connor, G Collins, I Ryan.
WATERFORD (SF v Offaly): S Enright; C Phelan, S Prendergast, M O’Gorman; T Grey, B Wall, J Hurney; S Aherne, T Prendergast; L Ó Lonáin, S O Hare, P Hurney; D Guiry, R Aherne, G Hurney.
WATERFORD (SH V Tipperary): I O’Regan; S Fives, L Lawlor, S Daniels; J Nagle, M Walsh, K Moran; S O’Sullivan, P Prendergast; B O’Halloran, S Prendergast, M Shanahan; J Dillon, S Walsh, J Barron.
MAYO (U21FC v Galway): P Mannion; B Harrison, N Freeman, A Butler; C Horan, C Walsh, E Collins; D Kirby, M Forde; A Gallagher, E Regan, J Shaughnessy; D Coen, C O’Shea, C O’Connor.
Subs: R Byrne, C Burke, E Jordan, M Regan, K Rutledge, E Lavin, F Durcan, C Costello, S Kelly, S McGarry, K Lynch, R Quirke.
TIPPERARY (SH v Waterford): B Cummins, D Maher, P Curran, M Cahill, C O’Brien, T Stapleton, P Maher, J Woodlock, S McGrath, B O’Meara, N McGrath, A Ryan, S Bourke, S Callanan, Lar Corbett.
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