Saturday 20 January 2018

Gilroy's blues exploit big gulf in class

Keith Barr

Job done for Dublin. Roll back 20 years ago, or even five or six years ago, and Dublin would have been blowing the likes of Laois out of the water in the early skirmishes. And they learned the hard way that there's no medals handed out in June.

They won pulling up. They probably didn't get out of second gear and Pat Gilroy will be very pleased with where his team are. They were good without being brilliant and they have three weeks to prepare for Kildare, who underlined why they were in the All-Ireland semi-final last year.

Dublin never had to break sweat, bar small periods of Laois dominance, and it was a prime example of the gulf in class between Division 1 and Division 2. The argument will be made that Dublin are much further down the road with their development, while Justin McNulty is only a few months in, but that doesn't excuse many of the basic errors Laois made in handling and shot and pass selection.

Tactically, too, they got it wrong and they played into Dublin's hands, particularly in the first half. The introduction of Donie Kingston gave them a slightly different dimension, but Dublin adapted and never looked like they were in trouble.

Apart from the result there were other positives. Rory O'Carroll got a game under his belt and he looked like he had never been away.

Ross McConnell got back on the pitch after a long lay-off, while the full-forward line looked very dangerous. I couldn't believe the amount of time and space Alan Brogan was afforded to do as he pleased.

He took and made scores with very little pressure on him and it's unlikely Kildare will allow him to do the same.

The Lilies will have noted that Dublin don't get many scores from their half-forward line and midfield and will focus on shutting down the full-forward line.

For Laois there were a few positives. Gary Kavanagh did well when introduced, while Ross Munnelly tried hard all day but there wasn't enough to support him and Dublin are in a good place heading into the Leinster semi-final.

Kieran McGeeney's men were deserving winners of their game with Meath, but there were two significant calls that went in their favour. The first one was the sending off of Brian Farrell. It was extremely harsh to say the least.

There'll be plenty of similar incidents over the course of the summer and if they are all punished, the CCCC will be very busy.

The other incident of note was Graham Geraghty's 'goal'. We all know by now that it was a perfectly good goal. Kildare were completely dominant in the second half and deserved to win on the balance of the game, but for 20 years Meath have made a living out of surviving batterings in games and coming back from the dead and its incidents like that that they have thrived on in the past.

The umpires seemed to agree on a goal at first before Syl Doyle went down to consult with them. I've been told since that one of the umpires is his son and it amazes me that the GAA and referees continue to put themselves in this position.

It leaves them open to ridicule, and if you are an umpire and your father tells you to put up the flag, how likely are you to argue with him? Again, Kildare deserved it, but it's a wider issue on the selection of umpires that needs to be addressed.

Finally, Tyrone did what was expected of them. They got past a game Monaghan side and that's all Mickey Harte will have been looking for from his side.

They got over the first hurdle and there is life in his team yet, even if seven of their side was over thirty years of age.

It's warming up nicely.

Irish Independent

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