Thursday 18 January 2018

Wexford's physical approach a worry for Gilroy

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

A PHYSICAL advantage underpinned Dublin's obvious superiority over Louth last time out, but Dublin boss Pat Gilroy has warned that his side won't enjoy that same advantage against Wexford on Sunday.

The Dubs steamrolled an emigration and injury-hit Wee County in an emphatic statement of intent in their Leinster quarter-final encounter four weeks ago.

And while they will face a team that spent the spring a division below Louth -- who survived in the second tier -- Gilroy has seen enough of Wexford to know they are better equipped to handle his side.

"Wexford are very well conditioned," said Gilroy, who faces off against Model boss Jason Ryan in Leinster for the third season in succession.

"I think that's maybe a difference with them compared to some of the other teams we are playing. They are physically at the right standard -- particularly from a strength perspective -- so they don't fall away.

"They're well able to hustle and harry. I think that's a key attribute that they have and then they have good scoring forwards -- any one of their six can get scores.

"They're always going to present a really difficult challenge -- and not just for us, you just have to look at their performance against Cork in the championship a couple of years ago -- they really put it up to the big teams."

In 2010, Wexford had Gilroy's new-look Dublin on the rack as they struggled to implement their new game plan that had been devised in the wake of the 'startled earwigs' defeat to Kerry in the previous year's quarter-final.

Wexford built up a seven-point lead at one stage and Dublin left the field at half-time with boos rolling down from Hill 16 before they recovered to win after extra-time.

And last year, the Dubs needed a goal courtesy of a defensive mix-up between Graeme Molloy and Anthony Masterson to secure the Leinster title.

smart

"Wexford are very good, their plan against us over the last number of years has been smart," Gilroy said.

"They had a good plan to contain certain aspects of our game. We kind of played into that a fair bit in the first half.

"We didn't provide options for Bernard (Brogan), particularly. He was getting bottled up a fair bit.

"We got a bit of fortune in the second half, but we had started to up it for three or four minutes before that goal went in."

Gilroy has stuck with the same side that beat Louth, meaning Cian O'Sullivan -- who started last year's All-Ireland final -- must do with a place on the bench, despite recovering from injury since the clash with the Wee County.

Eamon Fennell is also retained, despite the return of Michael Darragh Macauley to fitness as Gilroy hailed the Dubs' midfield performance against Louth as their "best in two years."

"We deal with the facts of it -- we won 70pc of the kick-outs, we haven't done that in a long time," he said.

"Certainly the Louth midfielders got on the ball in loose play, maybe our midfielders were doing other jobs at the time. But we would have been very happy with our performance in terms of our kick-outs and their kick-outs.

"On their kick-outs, I think it was our best performance in two years, so, in that respect, it was an area we saw as a real positive on the day."

A win for Dublin would secure a seventh Leinster final appearance in eight years, though Gilroy doesn't believe reaching a provincial final always offers the most suitable calendar for teams aiming to peak later in the season.

"In one sense, if you look at it brutally, you would be better off nearly losing on Sunday, the way the matches fall, because you get a nice run of matches (in the qualifiers).

"But you never know who you are going to meet in the qualifiers, so obviously you want to go out and win it.

"I think you just have to be able to juggle it. You have to have a Plan A and a Plan B, depending on what way you end up going.

"But they wouldn't change greatly in terms of your preparation for a (All-Ireland) quarter-final if you were aiming at that kind of date for being at your absolute best."

Irish Independent

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