DUBLIN manager Pat Gilroy gave Eoghan O'Gara a vote of confidence and a friendly but firm warning: 'let's be careful out there.' O'Gara will do well to heed the message.
He may be too young to remember the TV series 'Hill Street Blues' in which the station sergeant sent out the cops with the reminder to take care of themselves, but he can be happy that he retains the manager's confidence.
His strength, fielding ability and capacity to do the unexpected -- sometimes surprising team-mates as well as opposition -- are useless if he is sent for an early shower as happened in the Leinster semi-final against Kildare.
A first-half yellow card and clear signs of frustration in a player who appears to have a short fuse suggested Gilroy would have been prudent to take O'Gara off at half-time. The manager didn't do that, and the player duly picked up the second yellow, leaving the Dubs to battle on with 14 men.
Gilroy had no complaints about the decisions of referee Cormac Reilly of Meath, but won't discard O'Gara. On the contrary, he reckons the player has a big contribution to make in Sunday's Leinster football final against Wexford.
"We've been doing work with Eoghan for the last two weeks. A big part of it is down to how strong he is. If he puts his arm on somebody, they fall over. Another fella does it, it's nothing. He's done a lot of work around all that, so he just has to adjust and he has to be very careful.
"Eoghan has been an important part of what we've done, particularly last year, and in the early part of this year he was doing a great job for us. It (discipline) is something he's conscious of, and we trust him to deal with it and adjust his game," said Gilroy.
The Dubs boss made one change in personnel -- Eamon Fennell at midfield in place of the injured Michael Darragh Macauley -- and one positional switch, with O'Gara moving to right corner-forward, allowing Diarmuid Connolly to resume at full-forward.
Ross McConnell and Barry Cahill will be on the bench and are likely to contribute to the Dublin bid for a place in the All-Ireland quarter-finals, but the other subs won't be named until close to match time.
Given that Dublin had to play with 14 men for a large part of the second half against Kildare, Gilroy might have been tempted to criticise the ref, but instead he refuses to join in the chorus of condemnation.
"In general, I don't think we have been refereed too badly at all. In fairness to the referees as well, one of the things they said they were going to try to cut out this year was the pulling and dragging of players off the ball, and they have been inclined that way, but that also makes it look like they're being fussy," Gilroy pointed out.
"But they called it in January and they've been consistent about trying to stop holding and pulling and dragging, and I think that's fair enough."
Dublin (SF v Wexford) -- S Cluxton; M Fitzsimons, Rory O'Carroll, P Conlon; J McCarthy, G Brennan, K Nolan; D Bastick, E Fennell; P Flynn, A Brogan, B Cullen (capt); E O'Gara, D Connolly, B Brogan.