Back-to-back Allianz League winners they may be but Dublin will suffer the ignominy of relegation if they continue to play like they did on Saturday night.
That was the damning verdict of manager Jim Gavin who admitted that staying up is now their priority after a poor start to the campaign.
But for Dean Rock’s late goal they would have suffered their third defeat in four outings. They’re still stuck in the drop zone and require a win over Mayo next weekend to avoid being sucked into an embarrassing relegation scrap.
“We have a strategic view of where we want this team to go this season and if we stay up in Division 1, that’ll be a priority,” said Gavin.
“That would be the aim. But not with that performance we won’t get it. But that’s the challenge really at this stage of the season, to work on that and just keep improving our performance levels so that when we exit the national league, in a month or six weeks, that we’ll be in good shape to put a good Championship campaign together.”
Settling on a strongest team still seems some distance away for Dublin. By handing game time to Stephen Cluxton, Paul Flynn and James McCarthy on Saturday night they looked at their 31st, 32nd and 33rd players of the campaign. A number of others including Diarmuid Connolly and, potentially, Alan Brogan have still to return too.
Kevin Nolan was also on the bench on Saturday for the first time this year.
“He had an operation on his back so it’s great to see him even getting on the bus,” said Gavin of Nolan.
Another defender, Kevin O’Brien, is close to action too after a cruciate knee ligament injury picked up while on Sigerson Cup duty with DIT early last year.
“Kevin is back playing but unfortunately, playing for Naomh Mearnog, between the Donegal and Kerry games, he suffered a slight hamstring tear,” said Gavin.
Cathal McCarron picked up a hamstring for Tyrone though he could be still involved against Cork next Sunday.
“He was concerned about his hamstring as he had a bit of bother with it three or four weeks ago and had nursed it through,” explained Tyrone manager Mickey Harte.
“It actually hasn’t gone but he was afraid it was going to so it was a wise decision he made to come off rather than be out for a month. Benny Tierney rolled his ankle too but these things happen. He will probably be out for a week or two.”
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