Sunday 18 March 2018

Griffin back as Gilroy plays down Spring tide

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

ALREADY riding high after their strong opening to the National Football League, Dublin received more good news yesterday when Paul Griffin reported no ill-effects following his return to action on Monday night.

It may have been only a friendly against St Oliver Plunkett/Eoghan Ruadh, but Dubs manager Pat Gilroy said his former captain was "absolutely flying".

The return of Griffin, who has been out for almost a calendar year after suffering a cruciate ligament injury last March, gives Gilroy an additional option for his already strong defensive unit.

When Griffin will return to the inter-county fold depends on Kilmacud Crokes' result against Crossmaglen Rangers in Sunday's All-Ireland club SFC semi-final.

Gilroy reckons the half-back will be fully fit for the St Patrick's Day club final should Kilmacud qualify for the showpiece and fully expects him to be involved with Dublin before the end of their Allianz League campaign.

In the shorter term, the Dubs boss expects to have Michael Darragh Macauley back in the squad for the next instalment of Dublin's Spring Series against Kerry on Saturday night.

He is unsure whether Ger Brennan will regain fitness for that match, which may also come too soon for Paul and James Brogan, although both of them also played on Monday.

Football in the capital has come a long way since the last time they went head-to-head with the men from the Kingdom at Croke Park.

The 1-24 to 1-7 humiliation in the 2009 All-Ireland quarter-final represents the lowest point of Gilroy's regime, but also provided the starting point for his rebuilding job which brought them within inches of the final last year.

Gilroy isn't one for sweeping statements or talk of turning points and he wouldn't be drawn into a discussion on what happened on that August day two years ago.

"It's in the past and we have moved on from it," he said at the launch of a new book, 'UCD and the Sigerson', in Belfield yesterday.

"I wouldn't say it was a defining moment. The defining moments to a large degree come on the training pitch. That day was here and gone. It's a very different squad now for both teams.

"I think Kerry have gone through a fair change as well. I think they have lost a lot of the players that won the All-Ireland the year before last, so it's a different set-up. It's 2011 and I don't think it bears any relevance really."

True to his nature, Gilroy is not getting too excited about Dublin's strong opening to the league campaign, arguing that his players had been training longer than their Cork counterparts whom they beat last Saturday.


The St Vincent's man believes it's easier to access players at Croke Park, while he reckons the fitness levels combined with the size of the pitch are leading to plenty of entertainment.

"You have got to take into account the fitness levels," he said. "Even though our fellahs are in reasonably good shape, it's not near championship fitness. They have an awful lot of work to do to get to championship fitness.

"I think there are bigger gaps at Croke Park than you would normally see in a championship game because fellahs just don't have the legs to cover the space they can in summer. You have to take that into account, particularly for defenders.

"If you look at the couple of league games Dublin have played at Croke Park in the past (against Tyrone twice), they were really high-scoring games. They were like hurling matches and I think that's because the legs aren't there, so you have to take that into account."

Irish Independent

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