THE Dublin camp have certainly been laying the love on Louth this week in the build-up to the sides’ round 4 SFC qualifier at Croke Park.
Niall Corkery described tomorrow’s opposition as “the best team in Leinster” at an Ulster Bank promotion during the week but his team-mate, Cian O’Sullivan went one step further, calling Peter Fitzpatrick’s side “the moral Leinster champions”.
To be fair, there is plenty of justification for both statements but come 5pm, one suspects that the cuddling will cease.
Unfortunately for O’Sullivan, the game probably comes too early, as he only returned to training on Tuesday after pulling his hamstring in the victory over Wexford almost six weeks ago.
“It’s really frustrating because last year I had a similar problem throughout Leinster,” said the young defender. “It was a long year, and this year, to have a good run in the league, and then get injured in the first (championship) game…
“This is just the worst time. Especially now that we’re going through the qualifiers, playing week on week. I’m missing a lot of matches.”
Louth’s run of victories before their fairytale turned into a nightmare has Dublin on red alert. Having seen so much of Peter Fitzpatrick’s team, and in particular how dominant they were over Meath, who had blitzed the Dubs in the semi, Dublin will know what to expect though.
“They are the moral Leinster champions and they are going to be out to prove that this weekend. We are very mindful of the fact that they are going to give 110% and nothing less from us is going to be sufficient to beat them. We have to match their workrate.
“We have seen throughout the year that they are a very good side with talented forwards. They have a very capable midfield and half-backs who aren’t afraid to get up the pitch and score. They are a force to be reckoned with.”
O’Sullivan reckons that Dublin have shown “an incremental increase in performance” since that shocking loss to Meath in the subsequent victories over Tipperary and Armagh and morale has picked up as a result. But they still have a long way to go.
“We are a team in transition. There are a lot of new faces and it is going to take a bit of time. From that perspective maybe going through the qualifiers wasn’t the worst thing, to get a few more games under our belt, and let the team gel a little more. Hopefully we can see improvement again this weekend against Louth.
“We know ourselves we’re no world beaters. We by no means coasted against Tipp, or Armagh. There’s a lot of work to do. We’re not the finished product.
“There’s obviously been a marked increase in morale. It was a tough blow against Meath. We had won the Leinster championship the last five years and possibly a bit of complacency crept in this year. Maybe it was just the kick we needed to bring us back to reality.
“We put in a very good performance against Armagh. They are a very hard team to break down defensively and we were very happy with how we closed out that game. Morale is up in the camp. It’s good to get those wins under you belt. It adds to inner confidence going forward.”
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