Five reasons why Dublin are odds on for All-Ireland glory
Dublin’s domination of Leinster resumed at Croke Park yesterday where an impressive Laois performance still couldn't prevent an 11-point defeat.
Jim Gavin has been at pains to say that the expectation surrounding the All-Ireland champions is not affecting his team and that their primary focus is now on Wexford in the semi-final.
After another high-scoring performance without ever reaching top gear, here are five reasons why the Dubs are looking good to make it back-to-back Sam Maguire successes.
So often espoused as the reason for Dublin dominance, it was clearly in evidence again yesterday. The bench contributed nine points in an 11-point victory, while Tomas O' Flaharta got just a solitary point return from his substitutions.
When Bernard Brogan came off early, Kevin McManamon, their top scorer in the league, stepped up to the plate, Cormac Costello showed his potential with three points and Dean Rock was imperious on the free-taking duties when called upon. Bryan Cullen and Jack McCaffrey also played their part when called upon.
Marquee forwards are what teams crave, but not only do the Dubs have the most impressive firepower in the country at present, they have a frightening array of playmakers. Diarmuid Connolly may have been keeping his powder dry for periods of the contest, but displayed his talents on a number of occasions and his selfless play is reaping rewards for those around him.
Paddy Andrews started with the number 11 on his back, Alan Brogan has been pulling the strings for years while McManamon made a huge contribution when introduced to the fray. His part in Connolly's goal, a brilliant flick up and level of awareness to spot his colleague in a better position was one of the moments of the match.
As impressive as Laois were, there was a level of inevitability about the result, even at the interval. Certainly provincially, the only question when the Dubs lift their intensity and flex their muscles is how great the margin of victory will be.
Cork and Derry from the league know this plight only too well and now the worrying aspect for opposition is that even when Dublin fall behind, there is no panic in their game. The players trust in themselves, the manager and more importantly the game plan.
The underdogs stood up the the challenge, leading at half-time and keeping within striking distance for the first 15 minutes of the second half, but still lost by 11 points. The reigning champs were in third gear for parts of the contest against a highly motivated, well-organised and efficient side and still ran out comfortable winners.
Laois are unlikely to be challenging for top honours in September, but their performance could not be faulted for 45-50 minutes until the Dublin juggernaut took over.
Not all sides will be as resilient this summer one suspects.
A feature of last year's championship was the number of goal chances that went awry for Jim Gavin's side and that trend seems to be continuing, not that it has a great bearing on the overall result. Graham Brody was outstanding between the sticks for Laois, making three excellent saves in the first half, while Connolly and Andrews also tested the woodwork.
They did poach two after the break, while Colm Begley intervened to prevent another certain green flag raiser.
If they can win so comprehensively as it is, just what results can be achieved with greater efficiency in front of goals?