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Dubs can't afford to miss goal chances

WITH 23 minutes gone on the clock the Donegal blanket defence had restricted Armagh to a meagre two points from play. Perhaps, more tellingly, with 25 minutes elapsed in the second quarter-final, the Monaghan blanket defence had kept Dublin to zero points from play.

Things were stuttering a little for the odds on favourites but once the Diarmuid Connolly goal went in they were liberated.


By the 50th minute Monaghan were simply exhausted and the final quarter was a stroll for Jim Gavin's Dubs.

Lack of deep conditioning will not be a problem for Donegal when they face Dublin and mid-second half exhaustion just won't happen.

Which is why I found former Dublin star Ray Cosgrove's take on the capital's current team and their performances so interesting.

His comments mirrored that of many/most of the fans and pundits who believe this Dublin juggernaut is simply unstoppable.

Ray suggested Dublin "have taken it to another level. They are so far ahead. Every opposition they have played, they've blown them out of the water."

There are three parts to his conclusion but only two I can agree with: Dublin have indeed moved the game to a new level and have also hammered every opponent they faced.

But they are not a million miles ahead of all the others. The remaining other three teams to make up the 2014 semi-finalists are close enough to deliver a knockout blow if opportunities present themselves in a semi-final or decider.

Donegal will be first up and will present a formidable challenge, to Dublin, one that ultimately will probably fall short but that is not an absolute certainty.

And the team that emerges from Mayo v Kerry will be a better team than Donegal and that challenge will be extremely hard to face down also.

So, Dublin have plenty of work to be getting on with.

But Cosgrove is right when he suggests they are flying just now - the performance indicators for each championship match they play are indeed frightening: chances created, scores taken, blocks, technical fouls, wides, turnovers, steals, cards, and have numbers any squad and their management team would be thrilled with.

But when you hear other observers state Dublin would beat the pick of the other three be aware that it is the hype that is driving that opinion. Simply, Dublin would not beat the best the others would line out.

I thought Dublin played superbly last weekend - probably their best display of the season.

With their dominance in so many positions and excellence in so many aspects of the game, it was surprising that an old fault line appeared long after the game was put to bed.

Once again, Dublin players were selfish with the ball when chances presented and that must be both disappointing and of concern to Gavin and his performance coaches.

I have no doubt finishing goal and point chances and in particular, the need to give the ball to the best placed man was previously identified and worked on during training.


But with only two games to go if they are to be the first two-in-a-row champions under the same manger for almost a quarter of a century, Dublin players and in particular numbers 8 to 15, must know that the remaining teams will squeeze the number of goal chances conceded and therefore each one must be taken.

To me, that currently remains the only matter for Dublin to work on.

Other than that they really are both at a different level and blowing teams out of the water.

But every sportsman is aware that in a once-off game you always have a chance.