Saturday 16 December 2017

Clinical Gilroy throws down marker with early Brennan substitution

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

NICE guy Pat Gilroy showed the steely side of his nature by substituting St Vincent's club-mate and fellow All-Ireland Club Championship winner Ger Brennan after just 30 minutes of the game against Cork on Saturday.

There was never a question of Gilroy showing any favouritism to the players from his own club, but the early removal of Brennan and post-match criticism of the team's first-half work-rate spoke volumes.

Dublin had gone four games undefeated before playing Cork, and Gilroy badly wanted to maintain that winning habit.

But with the Rebels exerting massive pressure on the Dublin defence, wing-back Brennan was the first called ashore as Gilroy tried to stem the flow of attacks coming down Dublin's left flank.

He wasn't the only player substituted. Mick McAuley, Ross McConnell, Paul Flynn and Eamon Fennell were all replaced from half-time onwards, but Brennan wasn't even given until half-time before being taken off.

Ironically, Brennan had shown his awareness of the realities of life under Gilroy at the Dublin press conference last Friday.

The two played as team-mates on St Vincent's All-Ireland Club title-winning team of 2008 but Brennan and the other Vins players know who's boss.

"The good thing with 'Giller' and the management is that they're very straight," Brennan said. "If you're playing well you'll get a game and if you're not, you're out.

"With 'Giller' what you see is what you get. There's probably not as much slagging as before, but if anything, he probably treats the Vincent's lads a bit harder because he knows us better."

Gilroy certainly didn't mince his words when asked why he replaced Brennan so early.

"Ger was just taken off. He wasn't particularly doing well, he was kind of standing off his man and a lot of pressure was coming down that side," said Gilroy.

And when he declared that the team "didn't work hard enough in the first half", be assured he wants that remedied for Saturday's crucial tie at home to Galway.

Galway, boosted by their victory over Tyrone, will be a real handful for Dublin and it's a must-win game if the Blues are to retain hopes of a league final place.

Irish Independent

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