Parking the bus won't stop Jim's juggernaut

SHANE RYAN started and finished his Dublin senior career as a hurler, so he knows all about the scenario facing Westmeath this Sunday - that of rank outsider against a seemingly invincible Leinster force.

Only one difference: Westmeath will be facing some of Ryan's old Dublin football comrades rather than the Kilkenny hurlers.

One of the big tactical dilemmas facing Tom Cribbin this week is whether his Lake County minnows should 'park the bus' against Jim Gavin's juggernaut?

"Thankfully I'm not an opposing manager who has to figure some way to beat them," says the retired dual star, "but I can think back over many years and the Dublin hurlers going out and trying to do something like that against Kilkenny.

"And we would have come close a couple of years; we were annihilated a couple of times.

"It doesn't really work," he adds, "because a team like Dublin - no matter how defensive you are - they'll wear you down.

"They're so fit, they're so strong, so athletic. It nearly boils down to just a battle - can you outfight them, to give yourself any kind of a chance? And even if you can outfight them, Dublin have 25-30 players who can come on and do just as good a job.

"Westmeath have a more limited squad. That should count against them in that regard, so no matter how close Westmeath can keep it for the first half or even 50 minutes, Dublin will probably pull away at the end."