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Jayo: Midfield battle is vital

THE sky blue masses may be dwindling but one Dublin legend has yet to lose faith and is expecting his former colleagues to win through to a sixth straight All-Ireland quarter-final.

Jason Sherlock, the last remaining link to the All-Ireland winning team of 1995 before this year, reckons the Dubs can put Louth to the sword this evening in Croke Park (5.0) despite the current air of apathy from many of the summer time brigade.

“It is evident by the low attendances over the last couple of Saturdays that a lot of Dublin supporters have lost faith in Pat Gilroy’s team,” said Sherlock.

“I am definitely not one of them. I look forward to cheering on our Boys in Blue this Saturday.”

The GAA were expecting an attendance of just 45,000 in Croke Park today. This, despite the fact that consistent crowd-drawers, Kildare, play Monaghan on the same bill at 3.0.

Just 25,947 showed up to see Pat Gilroy’s men dispatch Armagh from the championship last Saturday, only marginally up on the 22,084 who attended their victory over Tipperary a week previously, turnouts are far removed from the full houses Sherlock played in front of when he thrilled the Hill between 1995 and last summer.

The St Oliver Plunkett’s/ER hitman has maintained that he is still available for selection, despite Gilroy deciding against including him in his plans for a 16th championship season with the Dubs.

And judging by the Dublin manager’s comments yesterday, it seems unlikely that a belated call up will come for Sherlock.

“Once you make your decision and you think it’s the right thing to do, you have to stick with it,” responded Gilroy when asked whether he was tempted to recall some of the players who had either left the panel this year or were not asked aboard.

“The group that has been there since May has pulled together and has really worked very hard. We were not thinking beyond that group at the moment.”

However, despite this, Sherlock is still optimistic about the Dubs chances today.

“Dublin will arrive back at HQ buoyed by the fact that their new found devotion to working as hard as they can is paying dividends and they will also see Saturday as a massive opportunity to get back to the stage of the competition where we have failed in the last two years,” he writes in his new column for gaa.ie.

“On a form line through Meath you would have to slightly favour Louth but Dublin look to have responded well from that defeat. Paddy Keenan and Brian White has so far been the most dominant midfield pairing in the country and I believe the winning and losing of this game will depend on how Dublin fares in this sector.”