| 5.3°C Dublin

Blue tide to up its pace!

Buoyed Dubs will look to avenge Derry 'horror show'ALLIANZ FL DIVISION 1

DUBLIN v DERRY

(Parnell Pk, Tonight 7.30, Live Setanta 1)

THE Academy Awards will be upon us pretty soon -- and with them the Razzies, those much under-rated baubles that recognise true awfulness in the cinematic field.

Dublin may have picked up the odd Oscar nomination last season (for greatest original score against Westmeath and best comeback against Kildare), but all those earlier achievements were buried in a blaze of recrimination once they swept the boards at the Razzies for 'Nightmare on Kerry Street'.

Last Sunday Dublin took the first baby steps on the road to atonement for last August with a gutsy-as-hell victory over their green-and-gold nemesis in Killarney. Six days later comes another chance for revenge and/or setting the record straight.

While there are no Oscars for remembering Dublin's most abject day of 2009, you may have forgotten their 'worst-supporting performance'. It came last March in Parnell Park. Against Derry.

That was the night the Bradleys, supported by Paul Murphy and Enda Lynn, ran through a leaking defence. The rampant visitors won by 0-20 to 1-12 -- and even that five-point margin is misleading. They would have scored 3-20 but for the cat-like reflexes of Stephen Cluxton and a goal-line clearance from Paddy Andrews, while Dublin restored some pride with a late rally that included a swashbuckling goal from Ger Brennan.

Tonight, then, Dublin will be determined to ensure there is no repeat of that defensive horror show. The irony is that many of the players on Sky Blue patrol tonight didn't feature against Derry 11 months ago -- in the same way that they weren't responsible for the Kerry collapse last August but made tigerish amends in Killarney last Sunday.

Derry manager Damien Cassidy is certainly expecting a much tougher challenge tonight. "It won't be the same, that's for certain," he told the Evening Herald.

"In terms of the personnel available to us, that match against Dublin was the strongest team I had for the entire season -- we had players like Niall McCusker, Enda Muldoon, who we lost over the course of the season, Fergal Doherty, who was suspended at times, and the Bradleys."

All changed this time. Muldoon has again been struck by the metatarsal curse. McCusker (groin) and Paddy Bradley (heel) are injured. And Eoin Bradley is suspended after his yellow card against Tyrone last weekend (where he struck Conor Gormley in the body, having lost a sideline tussle for possession) was retrospectively upgraded to a red-card offence on foot of video evidence.

The absence of the two Bradleys, especially, would seem to shorten the odds on a home victory. Concussion may have curtailed his Donnycarney shift to 33 minutes last year, but by then Paddy had already struck four points (3f) and caused no amount of panic. Eoin duly took up the second-half baton and finished the game with 0-6 (two from play, two frees and two sublime sideline kicks) as well as the man of the match plaudits.

However, Pat Gilroy's new-look crew would be very remiss to think that a Bradley-less attack will be contained without much fuss. Derry kicked off their Division One campaign with a hugely encouraging 1-18 tally against Tyrone, with Eoin Bradley responsible for just 0-4 (one from play).

"We are going with young players so the circumstances have considerably changed (from last year). What we have are two fresh, predominantly inexperienced teams out to impress their managers, I guess," Cassidy outlined.

"I was able to see Dublin play last Sunday on TG4. There was a freshness about them, and a competitive edge to them that wasn't evident in the early stages of the league last year. So I'm expecting that type of performance from them again.

"That is why I think it will be a real good game of football. That (Kerry) performance will have buoyed the Dublin supporters, and they will come out in their droves to support them. I'm expecting Parnell Park to be pretty full, and Saturday evening games bring a particular atmosphere."

Gilroy has made two changes from the team that recorded a first Dublin win on Kerry soil since 1982. This time there will be no Cluxton to repel the Oak Leafers, as Michael Savage gets another chance. Michael Fitzsimons will make his senior debut at corner-back, injury preventing Philly McMahon from building on his solid display in Killarney.

Leaving aside the impressive contributions of Eamonn Fennell, Michael MacAuley and Kevin McManamon -- to name just three -- the most eye-catching feature of Dublin's opening performance was their tenacity in the tackle, throughout the field.

Gilroy will demand more of the same from his forwards tonight, mindful of how Derry defenders came forward to score four points against Tyrone. It will also be intriguing to see if they persist with David Henry in a defensive 'sweeper' role.

Performance is the key, and if Dublin can deliver on that score the result might even follow.

ODDS: Dublin 4/5, Draw 15/2, Derry 5/4

VERDICT: Dublin


Privacy