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Fitzy's boys a huge test for Dublin

Increase in intensity vital ahead of Wexford game

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The displays of Seán Moran, in action here against Carlow, have been a huge positive for Dublin

The displays of Seán Moran, in action here against Carlow, have been a huge positive for Dublin

The displays of Seán Moran, in action here against Carlow, have been a huge positive for Dublin

After what were generally anticipated wins against both Laois an Carlow, Dublin will face a tougher challenge next weekend when they host a confident Wexford outfit in their Round 4 Allianz Hurling League encounter at Croke Park on Saturday (5.00).

Having fallen to Kilkenny in a deeply disappointing reverse in their opening fixture, the Dubs have regrouped relatively well but Wexford represent a step up in class to what they have faced in recent weeks, according to former Dublin selector Andy Cunningham.

"I would have been very disappointed with how Dublin played against Kilkenny, especially with the number of basic mistakes that the team committed.

"In many ways, they were expected to get the better of both Laois and Carlow and they managed to do that without too much trouble, but they were far from perfect performances on both days.

"Of course, the conditions were very poor in Carlow last Saturday evening but it was only really until the second half that Dublin really took control and they will need a more consistent showing over the 70-plus minutes next weekend.

Impressive

"Wexford had a very impressive win against Kilkenny on Sunday and they will be full of confidence coming to Croke Park.

"They had to dig deep to win that match and it was a great result for them, having lost to Clare in their previous match.

"Wexford have a team that will be suited to the excellent surface in Croke Park and you would imagine that Dublin would have had a better chance of winning if the game was played in Parnell Park.

"Having said that, it's a positive for the players to be getting the experience of playing in Croker and it's going to be a really good test of where Dublin are at the moment.

"Wexford are a very fit team, who will play their short-passing, support-based game and Dublin will need to increase their overall sharpness if they are to achieve a positive result," added Cunningham.

The common consensus regarding this current Dublin team is that there are relatively few concerns surrounding the defence but that the further you advance through the line-up, the more issues become apparent.

Rian McBride's influential display in Carlow may have allayed some of the fears about Dublin's midfield and the hope is that the talented St Vincent's player can make that position his own ahead of the Championship.

However, issues remain up front and in the absence of both Danny Sutcliffe and Eamonn Dillon last weekend, the Dubs were deprived of a genuine ball-winner in Sutcliffe and a consistent goal threat in Dillon, something that Dublin are ill-equipped to deal with at the present time, according to Cunningham.

"I think in general, you would have to be happy enough with Dublin's backs, a couple of blips against Kilkenny aside, and they have been fairly tight in the wins over Laois and Carlow.

"Wexford will offer a tougher challenge to them on Saturday but you wouldn't expect too many changes to how the defence looks ahead of the championship.

Positives

"Seán Moran is going very well at the minute, whether in midfield or further back and his form has been one of the positives from the league to date.

"He reads the game very well and he seems to have lots of time when in possession but all the good players tend to look like that.

"He anticipates the play very well and I would be very surprised if he's not playing in a sweeper role later in the year.

"Unfortunately, we seem to have more problems further up the field and we just don't have too many threatening forwards.

"I have been happy enough with Oisín O'Rorke's general play and Dillon looked sharp before getting that injury against Laois but the forwards aren't setting the world alight in general.

"Chris Crummey was switched to centre-forward last Saturday and it worked reasonably well, but I just don't see that as a viable long-term option.

"It may well work on a filthy February night where you are going for a horses-for-courses approach but I would be dubious if that would work as the pitches harden up over the summer.

"It is still early in the year but you would have to have concerns about the ability of Dublin's forwards to win enough ball and then put enough scores on the board.

"They will find it hard to create space against Wexford but it's a good challenge for them to have.

"These next two games are very important from a Dublin perspective and I think it's vital that they finish the league on a positive note against both Wexford and then Clare.

"They have dug out a couple of good results and have shown the required intensity in the second halves of those games with Laois and Carlow," said Cunningham.

"If they can play with that same intensity the next day, but from the first whistle, than that will be a step in the right direction."


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