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Wexford won't stop Dublin run


WE keep waiting for Dublin to hit that early-season speed wobble and they still keep motoring along.

That they have achieved this level of consistency while facing a steady drip-drip of selection headaches speaks volumes for the team's year-three progress under Anthony Daly: the Sky Blues are now a bona fide top-flight outfit.

Mind you, there's a nuanced gap yet to be bridged between top-flight and top-tier and the Sky Blues have yet to prove they are genuine contender for silverware, be it Allianz League, Leinster or ... oh, don't even go there!

Reaching a league final would constitute the first clear indicator that Dublin have made such a breakthrough. Obviously, based on their current second-placed standing behind Kilkenny, it remains a 'live' possibility this spring -- albeit an outside bet for now, given that the heavyweight trio of Galway, Kilkenny and Cork still await.


Before that, however, and all going according to plan, Dublin should be one step closer that elusive target tomorrow evening.

After a torrid reintroduction to Division One -- that 21-point collapse in Galway -- Wexford have stepped up their performances immeasurably without actually getting off the mark.

Colm Bonnar's men are firmly mired in a relegation dogfight, slugging it out with Offaly. Before a ball was pucked in this campaign, plenty of observers thought Dublin might end up in the same basement bracket but that fear has already been put to bed after just three games.

For the second week running, Daly has delayed announcing his team because of injury and illness concerns.

Leaving aside the longer-term issues (coupled with Maurice O'Brien's ongoing ankle travails and Declan O'Dwyer's hamstring setback), there are further complications for the Clareman.

Conal Keaney and David O'Callaghan are hoping to kill off the lingering effects of 'flu while Ruairí Trainor and Ryan O'Dwyer also picked up knocks at training on Thursday night.

As last Sunday's demolition of Offaly underlined, Keaney and O'Dwyer have been central to Dublin's greater potency this season. Between placed balls and scores from play, the prodigal son has been averaging 11 points per league game; meanwhile, the imported one confirmed his 'Premier' class by scoring 2-2 during his 51 minutes on the pitch in O'Connor Park, Tullamore.

Later that night, during RTé's League Sunday highlights programme, former Tipp supremo Liam Sheedy highlighted Dublin's aerial prowess -- something that has, in the past, let them down.

The ability to win his own ball is one of Keaney's finest traits, but he's not the only one stepping up to the mark.

Intriguingly, with the game already won, Daly chose the second half last weekend to switch Joey Boland from centre-back to full-back in a direct swop with Tomás Brady. This has been flagged as a likely experiment this year; as it transpired Boland coped well in his new position.

At the other end, Daly would doubtless prefer is his forwards had taken full advantage of several three-on-two or two-on-one scenarios instead of ending up with points.

It didn't matter last Sunday; it might this summer.

ODDS: Wexford 12/5, Draw 10/1, Dublin 4/11