Wednesday 16 August 2017

Dillon leads way as Dubs drag Deise back down to earth

Dublin 0-19 Waterford 0-14

Dublin’s Eamon Dillon attempts to get away from Waterford defender Barry Coughlan during their Allianz NHL Division 1A clash Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Dublin’s Eamon Dillon attempts to get away from Waterford defender Barry Coughlan during their Allianz NHL Division 1A clash Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Austin Gleeson, Waterford, in action against Eoghan O'Donnell and Shane Barrett, Dublin Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Eoghan O'Donnell, Dublin, in action against Shane Bennett, Waterford Photo: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE
Vincent Hogan

Vincent Hogan

There's a curious chemical wiring to this rivalry and it made funny faces at the game's logicians again in Walsh Park yesterday, Dublin cursing the defending champions to their first National League defeat in more than a calendar year.

Both counties have now qualified for the quarter-finals, but there were gentle throbs of misgiving in the stand as Waterford's growing aura of fearlessness unravelled a little against obstinate, intelligent opposition.

Some barbed voices were even audible behind the wire, taking issue with a system that left Tom Devine so isolated at full-forward, he might as well have been communicating with team-mates by fax.

Given the journey Waterford have travelled under Derek McGrath, he was entitled to pull his collar up against the gentle din of amnesia.

Listless

And, to be fair, it wasn't widespread. Waterford just hit a listless day here when, after a lightening bolt start (they led 0-3 to 0-0 inside two and a half minutes), they ran aground against opponents who have found impressive momentum in this League despite a timid opening against Tipperary.

McGrath was typically magnanimous after, acknowledging simply: "All over the field, I thought Dublin were full value for it. They just outplayed us, out-thought us and out-fought us. I'd have no argument with it. I was just surprised by how flat we were."

There was rumour doing the rounds of an excessively tough Waterford training session last Tuesday but to fixate on the forensic from that angle would be to do Dublin a grave dis-service.

Their hurling was just set at a slightly higher heat and, in Eamonn Dillon, they had unequivocally the best forward on the field. He shot three quickfire points between the 15th and 19th minutes, two from the left-hand touchline, and a wonderful diagonal pass from the Naomh Fionnbarra man almost got an unmarked 'Dotsy' O'Callaghan in for a 25th-minute goal, Stephen O'Keeffe's swift advance averting the danger.

Waterford's policy of flooding the middle third with bodies allowed Dublin goalkeeper Conor Dooley pick his targets with short puck-outs and their defensive structure was never seriously corrupted with, for long periods, Devine the only white shirt within 40 yards of Dooley's goal.

What ball did carry any threat was dealt with more than ably by Cian O'Callaghan, who already looks a fixture in the Dublin No 3 shirt.

Contrast that with the discomfort experienced by Barry Coughlan against a rampant Dillon and the palpable rustiness of Tadgh de Burca, parachuted in for his first game since last year because of an injury to Darragh Fives.

Dublin led 0-7 to 0-4 after 19 minutes and, though four points evenly shared by Patrick Curran and Austin Gleeson (his two struck virtually from the quays) allowed them reach half-time a single point ahead, there was never a real sense of Waterford being allowed hurl on their own terms here.

Dillon had another point on the board within 90 seconds of the resumption and de Burca and Noel Connors were soon in referee Paud O'Dwyer's book for fouls on O'Callaghan.

As Waterford laboured, McGrath despatched Gleeson to the half-forward line in search of spark, but the big Mount Sion youngster was guilty of conceding a small multiple of turnovers with sloppy passes in heavy traffic.

Dublin, by contrast, had David Treacy now in a more withdrawn role that seemed to suit him and, with Niall McMorrow coming more into the game around the '40' and Dillon always a willing out-ball, they scored five unanswered points between the 45th and 56th minutes.

That was the winning of the game in effect against a team that could summon just two points from play in the entire second half.

Dublin did have one moment of alarm when a terrific run by Shane Bennett almost got substitute Maurice Shanahan in on goal but Dooley advanced smartly to get a vital touch, knocking the sliotar out for a '65'.

Bottom line, the Dubs outscored their opponents 0-9 to 0-3 over the closing 25 minutes, easing away to an undramatic victory.

For manager, Ger Cunningham, it was thus a day without any niggling blemish.

"Yeah, very happy to come to Walsh Park and get a victory," the Cork native acknowledged. "Someone said before the match it's 23 months since Waterford were beaten down here and it was Dublin that did it two years ago as well. So delighted.

"The lads showed great composure and good intelligence on the ball. It's not an easy place to come."

The result signalled Waterford's first League defeat in a remarkable run of 12 games and will maybe serve as a reality check for McGrath's young team after victories over Kilkenny, Cork and Tipperary.

He reflected: "I think we saw the youth of our team when things aren't going entirely well for us. It can surface. That's something we'll have to work on. I've been saying that we've got a young team and we do. We'll have to work on that digging in, almost like Kilkenny did at the end of their game (with Cork).

"We'll have to develop that as a mantra and that'll take time. We looked more vulnerable at the back than we had for some time but, again, we have absolutely zero excuses."

SCORERS - Dublin: D Treacy 0-9fs, E Dillon 0-4, J McCaffrey, D O'Connell, N McMorrow, D O'Callaghan, S Treacy, C Crummey 0-1 each. Waterford - P Curran 0-7 (4fs, 1 '65'), A Gleeson 0-3 (2fs), Shane Bennett, J Dillon, C Dunford, J Barron 0-1 each.
DUBLIN - C Dooley 7, E O'Donnell 7, C O'Callaghan 8, O Gough 7, C Crummey 7, L Rushe 7, S Barrett 7, J McCaffrey 8, D O'Connell 6, D Plunkett 6, N McMorrow 7, D Treacy 7, D O'Callaghan 6, E Dillon 9, F McGibb 6. Subs: S Treacy 7 for McGibb (53), S McGrath (6) for Barrett (61), C Cronin for O'Connell (69).
WATERFORD - S O'Keeffe 7, N Connors 7, B Coughlan 5, S Fives 7, A Gleeson 7, T de Burca 6, P Mahony 7, J Barron 6, C Dunford 6, K Moran 6, Shane Bennett 6, P Curran 7, M Walsh 6, T Devine 6, J Dillon 6. Subs: M Shanahan 6 for Devine (51), M Kearney 6 for Dunford (62), S O'Sullivan for Bennett (69), T Ryan for Gleeson (69).
Ref - P O'Dwyer (Carlow).

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