Saturday 3 December 2016

Martin Breheny: 31 games 29 victories 1 draw 1 defeat - Dublin's dominance not helping GAA

Dublin's firm grip on the Leinster SFC a big concern as they seek their second five-in-a-row in 11 seasons

Published 28/05/2015 | 02:30

Michael Darragh Macauley with the Leinster SFC trophy last year
Michael Darragh Macauley with the Leinster SFC trophy last year

Longford are doing their best to embolden themselves ahead of Sunday's massive challenge against Dublin in the Leinster football quarter-final, but won't find a shred of encouragement from recent years.

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Dublin have won their last six Leinster Championship games by a total of 82 points, including four 16-point wins against Meath, Wexford, Kildare and Westmeath.

It's a tyrannical level of dominance and explains why they are 1/200 to beat Longford (25/1), who are bidding to reach the Leinster semi-final for the first time since 1988.

Dublin's expected dominance against opposition that emerged from Division 4 last month is further underlined by the 4/6 odds on Jim Gavin's men to win by 16 or more points.

Dublin are 16/1 to win by 1 to 3 points and 13/1 for a 4- to 6-point win., suggesting it's going to be a very easy day out.

And while Jack Sheedy will, no doubt, set Longford up to be as awkward as possible to unlock, it's virtually certain that his native county will win their 29th game from 31 outings in the Leinster Championship.

The sole defeat came in the 2010 Leinster semi-final against Meath while the Royals drew with Dublin in 2007.

Dublin's dominance is not helping the marketability of the Leinster Championship, especially since their winning margins have been increasing every year.

Their total winning margin for three games last year was 43 points, compared with 39 in 2013. A year earlier, it was 23 points, 11 more than in 2011.

The gap between Dublin and the rest of Leinster remains a matter of serious concern - inside and outside the province - and, if anything, is widening all the time.

The Leinster Council's attempt to introduce a round-robin series for some of the weaker counties, designed to increase competitiveness early on, was vetoed at Congress last February, amid concerns that it would impact negatively on clubs.

However, with Leinster CEO Michael Reynolds admitting in his annual report last January that there were four levels of standard in the province, ranging from Dublin down, the extent of the challenge is obvious.

Dublin's period of dominance - they are seeking their second provincial five-in-a-row in 11 seasons - is the longest in championship history, pushing them ever further ahead of all rivals.

Here's how they have fared against the rest of Leinster (Kilkenny excluded) down the years.

LONGFORD

Overall championship record v Dublin: P18, W2, D1, L15.

Last win: 1970, Leinster 1st round, Longford 2-14 Dublin 3-8, Mullingar.

It's 45 years since Longford recorded the second of only two wins over Dublin in Leinster Championship history. They came in 1968 and 1970, a period when Longford were going well, having won the 1966 NFL title and the 1968 Leinster title. Dublin were in trapped in a famine at the time, which left them without a Leinster title between 1965 and 1974.

MEATH

Record v Dublin: P62, W20, D9, L33.

Last win: 2010 Leinster semi-final, Meath 5-9 Dublin 0-13, Croke Park.

The Royals have the best record of the Leinster counties against Dublin but it was mostly accumulated pre-2002. Since then, results stand at 7-1 to Dublin with one draw. Their last two wins over Meath in 2014 and 2013 were by 16- and seven-point margins.

LAOIS

Record v Dublin: P32, W5, Drew 2, L25.

Last win: 2003 Leinster semi-final, Laois 0-16 Dublin 0-14, Croke Park.

Dublin lost to the Mick O'Dwyer-managed Laois in 2003, but it was a temporary blip in a largely one-sided rivalry. Remarkably, Laois have failed to score a goal against Dublin in nine of their last 11 clashes and haven't scored two goals against the Blues since 1981.

KILDARE

Record v Dublin: P50, W31, D5, L14.

Last win: 2000 Leinster final replay, Kildare 2-11 Dublin 0-12, Croke Park.

Kildare had two close calls against Dublin under Kieran McGeeney in 2009 and 2011, but were trounced by 16 points in 2013. Kildare and Laois are on the same side of the draw as Dublin this year.

OFFALY

Record v Dublin: P24, W7, L17.

Last win: 1982 Leinster final, Offaly 1-16 Dublin 1-7, Croke Park.

They haven't met Dublin since 2007, which is probably just as well, given that it was also the last season Offaly won any Leinster championship game. It's all very different to 1980-81 when Offaly recorded a double over Dublin.

WEXFORD

Record v Dublin: P50, W11, D4, L35.

Last win: 1956 Leinster semi-final, Wexford 2-7 Dublin 0-7, Carlow.

Without a win over Dublin for 59 years, Wexford did well against Dublin in three of their last four championships clashes in 2010-11-12, taking them to extra-time once and losing their other two games by three and four points respectively, but were way off the pace last year, losing by 16 points.

Westmeath

Record v Dublin: P16, W3, L13.

Last win: 2004 Leinster quarter-final, Westmeath 0-14 Dublin 0-12, Croke Park.

Other than Meath in 2010, Westmeath were the last Leinster county to beat Dublin, winning the 2004 quarter-final by two points. They ran Dublin to two points in 2008 but lost their two clashes (2009 and 2013) by a combined total of 43 points.

LOUTH

Record v Dublin: P59, W14, D6, L39.

Last win: 1973 Leinster quarter-final replay, Louth 1-8, Dublin 0-9, Navan.

Without a win over Dublin for 42 years, their lost their last clash by 16 points in 2012.

CARLOW

Record v Dublin: P10, W9, L1.

Last win: 1944 Leinster final, Carlow 2-6 Dublin 1-6, Athy.

They haven't played Dublin since 1988, which is probably just as well, given Carlow's record against lesser teams.

WICKLOW

Record v Dublin: P14, W0

Still without a championship win over Dublin, the last clash between the counties was in 1990.

Irish Independent

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