Thursday 26 April 2018

Excuses not on agenda as mind games continue

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

AS the game of chess Pat Gilroy and Mickey Harte have indulged in this week continued when the Dublin manager named his side yesterday morning, Gilroy also systematically removed the excuses his side could offer should they be vanquished in Croke Park tonight.

The Dublin supremo insisted that the lessons of 2009, when they were blown out of the water at the quarter-final stage by Kerry after more than three weeks of inactivity, had been well learned. This time, there has been a four- week gap since the Leinster final win over Wexford.

"I can honestly say, I've never seen training sessions as intense as what happens here at our weekend training matches," said the Dublin manager.

"We've had a full 70-minute game each Saturday since the Leinster final and we've had three hugely competitive games where there hasn't been any more than a point or two in it -- and it's gone to either team as well.

"That's probably a very different approach to what we did in 2009, wheN maybe we would have had only one of those big games in that period and then a few 20 or 40-minute games. We've kind of moved on with that approach and I think they're in great shape as a result of it."

Gilroy also denied that Dublin would bear any mental scars from the 12-point humbling at the same stage in 2008 and pointed out that none of the six starting defenders from that day will play in the rearguard. In fact, going by the side that was released yesterday morning just three of that side (Stephen Cluxton, Alan Brogan and Bryan Cullen) will start tonight.

"I really think all that stuff is overplayed. That's like saying Tyrone have a problem with last year. They don't. It will only incentivise them as it incentivised us last year. But it doesn't really have any bearing on the result."

Overall, it was a relaxed Dublin media conference. When Denis Bastick was asked how he would deal with the in-form Sean Cavanagh, he joked: "I have come up with a good plan -- let Eamon Fennell mark Sean Cavanagh."

Quite how much can be read into both teams named remains to be seen. Gilroy immediately qualified the side he released by revealing Eoghan O'Gara, Philly McMahon and Michael Darragh Macauley will undergo 11th-hour fitness tests today and those results will help determine Dublin's bench.

Of those three, just O'Gara is named to start, despite reports last month that a wrist injury had ended his season.

Cian O'Sullivan and Ger Brennan could switch positions, while Barry Cahill could also feature on the '40.'

Tyrone may also make some switches, with Ryan McMenamin and Stephen O'Neill not named in the squad, but with managers allowed to tinker with their squads until an hour before kick-off, it seems the game of chess will continue almost to the last moment.

Dublin (SF v Tyrone): S Cluxton; M Fitzsimons, R O'Carroll, C O'Sullivan; J McCarthy, G Brennan, K Nolan; D Bastick, E Fennell; P Flynn, A Brogan, B Cullen; E O'Gara, D Connolly, B Brogan.

Irish Independent

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