It’s two years since Dublin and Galway last met in the Leinster SHC in Tullamore and Conor Dooley will be hoping for a more uplifting experience when the counties come together again at O’Connor Park this month.
Galway and Dublin played out an unimpressive draw in Croke Park 24 months ago but the Tribesmen tore through the capital side in the replay in Offaly a week later with a blistering start laying the foundations for a 13-point win.
Dooley was sub keeper that day and had to sit on the Dublin bench and watch the vast majority of that disaster unfold before a shortage of fit bodies necessitated his introduction as an outfield player with just a minute of normal time to play. He can’t remember if he touched the sliotar.
“I think I went for it and I ran into Iarla Tannian and it felt like I was hit by a freight train,” he said yesterday.
The sides meet again on May 28 but with each of them on very different curves.
Dublin lost their last four league games, including a relegation play-off to Clare, to slide into Division 1B. Galway shot past in the opposite direction and went on to claim the title with a rout of Tipp.
Dooley doesn’t dodge the suggestion this provincial opener is a make-or-break for this Dublin team but he finds comfort in the fact the Dubs have performed better as underdogs in the past and will be that when they get their championship underway.
In a way, Galway’s success of late could serve as inspiration. Like Dublin, they have been plagued by inconsistencies. Both are big, powerful teams and Galway manager Michéal Donoghue, like Cunningham, shed a slew of experienced campaigners during the off-season.
“Galway are a bit like us,” Dooley said. “They have the potential to play very well and then they have the potential to have a bit of a stink. I’d say not after the league campaign, they’d be looking forward to the championship, hoping to carry that form in.”
Dooley has been vying with Ballyboden St Enda’s clubmate Gary Maguire for the number one jersey this last few seasons but there will be no contest for this one what with the latter serving a two-match suspension arising from his sending-off against Kilkenny in the league.
Dublin are also likely to have experienced David ‘Dotsy’ O’Callaghan available. The forward returned to training with the panel shortly after that Clare loss having overcome a serious back problem that threatened to end his inter-county career.
“He’s been training there flat out during the week and he’s got on well. He’s flying it. Dotsy is never going to lose it. He is a natural hurler. He doesn’t need the fitness. All he needs is two yards and he’ll send you one way and he’s gone the other. I’d say he’s relying on his sidestep more than his fitness.”
Meanwhile Dublin footballer Mick Fitzsimons isn’t looking back with regret on last month’s Allianz League football final. Fitzsimons could have done with employing some fancy footwork when Kerry’s Anthony Maher dragged the Dublin defender to the ground as he sprinted through the midfield with ball in hand during the closing stages of last month’s Allianz Football League final against Dublin.
Maher received a black card for his indiscretion but it was more than worth it given Dean Rock’s attempt at an equaliser from the resultant free rebounded back off the Kerry post. It highlighted once again how teams can profit from the dark arts when games are in the melting pot.
“Yeah, but the ball had bounced about four yards away from me,” said Fitzsimons. “I didn’t think much of it. It bounced off me and I was running into traffic. I don’t think it made much difference. I tried to take it quick. I don’t think it impacted the game at all. If I had gone on, I might have been caught out of position.”
It’s an interesting take on a hot topic from the defender and, unlike his manager Jim Gavin who is a strong advocate of the sinbin, Fitzsimons expressed himself more than happy with the black card and its effect as a deterrent to date.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved