Tuesday 12 December 2017

Dubs' squad depth still an unsolvable problem for the Kingdom

Bernard Brogan
Bernard Brogan
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Among the occupants of the Dublin bench in Clones at the start of last Sunday's clash with Monaghan were three former Footballers of the Year, Bernard Brogan, Michael Darragh Macauley and Jack McCaffrey, as well as Cian O'Sullivan, Diarmuid Connolly, Paul Mannion and Eoghan O'Gara.

All except O'Gara came on at various stages, with Brogan and McCaffrey scoring 2-1 between them in the second half.

Monaghan lost Colin Walshe (injury) and Darren Hughes (black card) in the first half and while their replacements did well enough, Malachy O'Rourke would have hoped to deploy them in different circumstances in the second half.

He later referred to the wide variation in the number of top-class players available in a county like Monaghan as compared with others.

"Our playing resources would be a lot smaller than many of the teams we're coming up against in the first division. To be fair to the boys, they've put in a great shift throughout the league. Our first aim was to stay in Division 1 and we did that fairly comfortably. Overall, it's been a good league campaign for us," said O'Rourke.

well-endowed Obviously he couldn't say 'swap subs and we'll beat Dublin' but, in reality, it's a fair assessment of how several counties, including Kerry, feel nowadays. Dublin have many fine qualities on an individual, collective and tactical basis but probably the most important asset of all is the sheer depth of their squad.

They are especially well-endowed in attack where there are at least two top-class performers challenging for each of the six positions. That's quite a luxury for Gavin, not just when it comes to selecting the team but also as a driving force in making training ultra-competitive.

That used to be a traditional Kerry strength and while they are a lot better off than many of their rivals, they are still behind Dublin.

Indeed, that is probably the main reason why they have come up short so often against Gavin's crew in recent seasons.

It could prove the difference again tomorrow, even if the law of averages suggests that Kerry are due a win over Dublin.

They have put themselves in a position to beat Dublin in most of the clashes in recent seasons but didn't see it through, the latest example coming three weeks ago when Dublin scored two late points which secured a draw in Tralee and, as a happy side-event, took their unbeaten run to 34, matching Kerry's achievement 84 years earlier.

An interesting feature of the seven divisional games was the closeness of the scoring returns of both counties, with Dublin holding a six-point advantage.

However, there was a considerable difference in the give-away rate where Dublin conceded an average of almost four points per game less than Kerry. Put it altogether and it suggests a Dublin win by two points, which may be about right.

Irish Independent

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