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Carton hails Dubs 'maturity' in escaping relegation at Deise

IF recent history is to be repeated, Dublin hurlers will end up in an All-Ireland final in September. Who knows, they might even win it.

Check out the record books. In 2012, Galway retained their Allianz League Division 1A status after winning a relegation play-off with Dublin that went to a replay ... by season's end they would be contesting another replay, eventually losing out to Kilkenny in the race for Liam MacCarthy.

In 2013, Clare edged out Cork in the relegation play-off and both sides duly advanced, via a circuitous route, to the All-Ireland final. There, it was Clare's turn to triumph, eventually, after another epic replay.

Now we're in 2014 and Dublin have emerged on the right side of Division 1A's dance with death.

Anthony Daly's men know, from bitter experience, that losing such a play-off can be a prologue to far greater pain. They never raised a Championship gallop in 2012, but now, according to long-serving wing-back Michael Carton, Dublin are better equipped to deal with whatever setbacks are thrown their way.

Sunday in Walsh Park was a case in point. After just seven minutes, they trailed by 0-5 to 0-0 as Waterford exploded from the blocks.

"You never want to start a game like that," said Carton, "but I think the team is starting to show a bit of maturity and no panic set in. We started to hurl well and came into the game and, by half-time, we were a point up and it was good from there.

"Maturity is the word because we have been around for so long together," he underlined.

"Panic didn't set in and it was great to see because it has in the past. When they went down to 14 men, we used the extra man great and played really well in the second half."

The net result is that Waterford will start off next spring in the league's second tier, whereas Dublin will still be mixing it with the Clares and Kilkennys.


"We know how hard it is to get out of 1B," Carton pointed out. "Limerick have been down there a few years and they are a fantastic hurling team – it was the last place we wanted to be.

"It is a very hard league and there was a puck of a ball between a quarter-final and a relegation battle. I think Waterford are very unlucky to be where they are, and thank God it's not us."

Dublin are viewing Sunday with relief rather than jubilation, but they are hoping for some positive psychological spin-offs as they contemplate a marathon 11-week run-in to their next competitive outing, a Leinster semi-final on June 14.

As Danny Sutcliffe, their two-goal hero in Waterford, pointed out: "Last year, we got a bit of a kick from beating Limerick (in the Division 1B final) and it's the same again. This was basically a championship game for us in March, and we came out on top. We are not over the moon; we are just happy for next year, that we have it again."

While Dublin disappear from view, four of their Championship rivals are heading to Limerick on Easter Sunday after the GAA confirmed that the Division One semi-finals will both take place at the Gaelic Grounds on April 20. Kilkenny and Galway will throw in at 2.0, followed by Clare and Tipperary at 4.0, both games to be screened live on TG4.