Saturday 17 February 2018

Damian Lawlor: The Dubs are in a league of their own - we have witnessed the death of Leinster football

Paul Flynn steps over the longford goalkeeper Paddy Collum after scoring the second Dublin goal
Paul Flynn steps over the longford goalkeeper Paddy Collum after scoring the second Dublin goal
Bernard Brogan celebrates after scoring Dublin's fourth goal

Damian Lawlor

Back in the summer of 2005 no one could have predicted that Dublin were about to embrace the Leinster championship with an iron like grip.

But that was exactly what happened. And today's 27-point hammering of Longford was just another mismatch in a province that has seen standards fall through the floor.

Ulster football may be tough to take in but it is dog eat dog and largely competitive from the first round preliminary to the final, Connacht is at least a three way tie between Mayo, Galway and Roscommon, Munster will always have Cork and Kerry but now it has Tipperary too. As for Leinster.... well is there anyone who doesn't think Dublin will ease to a fifth consecutive Leinster title in a few weeks' time?

The province no longer has the sheen or polish of a Meath-Dublin or even a Dublin - Kildare rivalry to enthuse over. Even next weekend's local derby between Laois and Kildare, whilst potentially promising, will be a shoot-out between two teams playing well below the standards expected of them.

Today, Longford travelled to Croker to try their luck. They topped Division 4 this year and battled gamely but they were ultimately blown away and it's upsetting for the province that the midlanders are still deemed one of the province's success stories thus far this season.

Eleven teams compete for the Delaney Cup but only one has a realistic chance of winning. The competition is a forgone conclusion and will be for some years to come. Dublin have won nine out of the last ten titles – the winning sequence interrupted by Meath’s thrilling but ultimately soured win over Louth in 2010.

Already in this year's championship Offaly have bombed, Carlow have been blown away and Louth continue their journey into the abyss. It says a lot that newly relegated Division 4 side Wexford will fancy their chances of making a final this year - they play Westmeath and possibly Meath to reach the decider. Meath are up and down and whilst full of pace they don't have the attacking potency that they need to step up to the Dubs mark.

Only one defeat for the Dubs in last ten Leinster football championships is a wholly impressive stat for the Blues to boast but it does raise the question: what has been happening in the other counties?

Diarmuid Connolly scores the first Dublin goal.
Diarmuid Connolly scores the first Dublin goal.

Eight counties from the province (Kildare, Westmeath, Louth, Wexford, Longford, Offaly, Carlow and Wicklow) are in Divisions 3 and 4 next season. That has deprived the Leinster championship of much of its appeal.

Leinster need to bring in some type of round-robin format among between six to eight counties to inject some degree of excitement, consistency and development into the series. That move was proposed to Congress in February but it was shot down in typically short sighted fashion.

This has left a once prestigious championship with little hope or room for progress. The suits need to revisit this motion as soon as possible.

And they need to move the Dubs out of HQ to, if nothing else, engineer a little bit of sparkle or unpredictability for the championship.

As for the others, well they need to buck up their act. If Cavan, Tipperary and Roscommon can get their act together there is simply no excuse for Kildare, Laois, Meath in particular. We deserve more from them. We need it too.

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