KEEP your cool or leave Croker with nothing -- again. That's the message from legendary former Dublin midfielder Ciarán Whelan ahead of Sunday's Allianz Football League Division 1 final with reigning All-Ireland and League champions, Cork (4.0).
The Raheny clubman and Evening Herald columnist says Dublin must absorb the bitter lessons of last August's All-Ireland semi-final thriller against the same opposition when a raft of ill-disciplined tackling deprived Pat Gilroy's men of a spot in the final and, as Whelan contends, "probably cost them an All-Ireland title."
Dublin were crucified that day by the dead-ball accuracy of Rebel snipers Daniel Goulding and Donncha O'Connor, who kicked 1-7 from frees and a penalty in a match that they eventually won by a single point, while the Dubs were reduced to 14 men with the late dismissal of Ross McConnell.
"For Dublin it's a case of learning from last year's championship when their lack of discipline in the tackle probably cost them an All-Ireland title with the concession of scores to their opposition from placed balls running at an average of six points a game," writes Whelan in his column in the Herald today.
However, Whelan points to a significant improvement in Dublin's defensive discipline during this year's impressive unbeaten campaign.
"In this year's league run, Gilroy's troops have reduced their average free count concession by 50 per cent -- which has formed an integral part of their league run -- and they must maintain this trend on Sunday."