Monday 20 November 2017

Jury still out on Dubs but greater firepower should see off McGeeney's men

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Kildare were killing Dublin with kindness and respect this week, portraying them as an awesome power capable of inflicting terrible damage if conditions are right.

"Dublin are developing into a machine. They move in waves, they come back in waves. It's very hard to stop that," said Dermot Earley.

Kieran McGeeney talked of the difficulty in defending against the Dublin system, citing how the attackers work so well off each other, looping around the ball-carrier to create scoring chances.

Publicly praising the opposition before games is standard practice in the GAA, but one suspects that behind closed doors in the Kildare camp, much less reverence is being shown to Dublin. After all, Dublin only beat Kildare by a hotly disputed point in the 2011 Leinster semi-final, en route to an All-Ireland title.

Are Dublin better now than two years ago? There seems to be a general view that they are, although it's based on this season's league campaign, the reliability of which as a championship pointer is unproven, because five of the Division 1 teams met lower-ranked opposition in the early rounds.

New Dublin manager Jim Gavin identified league success as an early target and, right from the opening night, Dublin looked more driven than most of their rivals.

Tyrone, who reached the final, were also focused on winning the league but, come championship time, they found themselves six points short against Donegal.

It makes league form somewhat – although not totally – suspect.

Dublin, who have named an unchanged team for tomorrow's match, played exceptionally well at times in the league but the demands are much greater in the championship and it's not until they face the big summer tests that it will become clear if their high rating is warranted.

That's when they discover if a half-back line that has been so good going forward can defend properly against power-runners and whether the fancy attacking patterns yield as much against defences which will have studied them in detail.

As for Kildare, their supporters are hopeful that the addition of Jason Ryan, whose Wexford sides did well against Dublin, to the back-room team will bring an added dimension to the big championship challenge.

It had no impact on the league game last March when the Lilies imploded in the second half but, no doubt, the entire Kildare camp learned a lot that day.

The addition of U-21 talent has freshened up the Kildare scene. McGeeney talked this week about the confidence the younger brigade have, although it can't have been helped by their bad experience against Galway in this year's All-Ireland U-21 semi-final, for which Kildare were hot favourites.

On all available evidence, Dublin will continue on their winning Leinster run but it's likely to be a lot closer than the odds suggest. It's all set up for Kildare to ask much tougher questions of Dublin than Westmeath did in the semi-final.

Still, even in tight situations, Dublin have a superior scoring capacity to Kildare, both with their starting team and on the bench.

It's a combination which is likely to prove a match-winner.

Verdict: Dublin

DUBLIN – S Cluxton; D Daly, R O'Carroll, J Cooper; J McCarthy, G Brennan, J McCaffrey; MD Macauley, C O'Sullivan; P Flynn,C Kilkenny, D Connolly; P Mannion, P Andrews, B Brogan.

Kildare – M Donnellan; P Kelly, M Foley, H McGrillen; E O'Callaghan, M O'Flaherty, E Bolton; Daryl Flynn, Daniel Flynn; P Cribbin, N Kelly, E O'Flaherty; J Doyle, T O'Connor, P Brophy.

Irish Independent

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