ANGRY Dublin boss says he expects far better from his side against Cork on Sunday
Suffice to say, Pat Gilroy has had easier weeks as Dublin manager. The nuclear fall-out to last Saturday's Castlebar shambles has incorporated a wholly revised team sheet – one which features a whopping seven changes – and, says Gilroy, a complete reversion to type in their thought process ahead of a daunting trip to Cork.
“The group has got to that stage where they're very honest with each other and we're very honest with them,” Gilroy told the Herald at this morning's team announcement in St Clare's. “We were very honest about what was in our heads going into that game, which wasn't right for the game we were faced with.
“For the end of March, fellas were really up for it so I would expect a big response on Sunday.”
Gilroy's immediate reaction to the 12-point humbling at the hands of Mayo was to issue a stern warning that a continuation of the attitude which haunted them over a disastrous 70-minute performance would result in Dublin having a suitably short summer.
The passing of a week hasn't softened his stance in any way.
“The biggest fundamental we've got to get back to is working hard,” he insisted. “That's it. If we don't do it… it's the foundation of everything we've done in the last two years and without it, we're just no good. It's as simple as that and it's the bottom line.”
Despite hindsight being the great analytical tool, Gilroy still can't pinpoint any specific advance warnings that that performance was about to unfold.
“There wasn't particularly,” he explained. “You could point to a lot of little things. But generally speaking, you have got to get it into your head that it's well and good doing it on the training field, but you've got to do it in the game and working hard is an essential for us. If we don't do it, we're a very poor team. That's what happened last Saturday.”
Team reconstruction has been extreme. Out of goals goes Stephen Cluxton while Philly McMahon and Johnny Cooper replace Darren Daly and Ger Brennan – who was struck down with an illness this week – from defence.
Ahead of that, it's all change. Seán Murray and Eamon Fennell form an all-new midfield, with Michael Dara Macauley moving to centre-forward.
Gone are Ross McConnell, Paul Brogan, Paddy Andrews and Tomás Quinn, while Davy Byrne and Craig Dias – more well-known as defenders – are listed to start at wing-forward and corner-forward respectively.
But the team has all the hallmarks of a Gilroy selection circa 2010, when he was attempting to build his team from the back up.
“It was more coloured by what we saw during the week and the weeks coming into this,” explained Gilroy of the selection. “There are guys there that didn't have the opportunity. That's really what we're about.
“Everybody – all of us – were very disappointed with last week,” he added. “You can't go out and lose by 12 points and be anything but disappointed.
“In the past when that has happened to us, when we took the foot off the pedal for periods in games, we got the answer from the opposition. They tore us apart.”
If instigating a reaction from what Gilroy termed “the worst performance since 2009” wasn't motivation enough for Dublin, there is also a League semi-final spot at stake and the opportunity to halt a winless run on Leeside which stretches back to the famous All-Ireland semi-final replay of 1983.
“We're taking it very seriously,” Gilroy insisted. “We'll be going out full-out to get them.
“There have been a few of those things hanging over the team about not winning in Kerry or wherever and we've managed to put them away. It would be nice to put this one away as well.
“We're also aware that a win would get us to a semi-final. But the biggest thing was fellas just wanted to get out on the pitch and working hard again and working as a group. The appetite to get back out on the pitch was phenomenal.
“But it won't be any use unless we get it on Sunday,” he concluded.