Saturday 17 February 2018

Show of strength bodes well for Dublin's second coming

Eugene McGee

Eugene McGee

There were very few questions that anybody expected to be answered about Dublin when the All-Ireland champions opened their campaign against Louth yesterday. So nobody can be disappointed after the massacre that ensued.

Football people who love to make comparisons wondered over the winter how good Dublin really were last year in terms of All-Ireland-winning teams of the past 20 years or so, but that was purely an academic exercise.

When you win the All-Ireland that is the best one you have ever won. But the current set of Dublin footballers may well decide among themselves that they will adorn their performance last year by really going flat out to win again in 2012 just for the fun of it.

If that is the case, then they certainly set out their stall in style against Louth in a game that was only a genuine contest for the opening five minutes.

After that, it was simply a show of strength from one Dublin player after another and one soon felt sorry for the Louth players who were trying their best but were outclassed.

In any sport, this is never a pretty picture for enthusiasts to watch and it can be horrific for the players. All the effort put in for the past nine months in training and preparation seems meaningless and the terrible realisation that you are light years away from an All-Ireland final can be soul-destroying.

But, as long as the present system of playing the All-Ireland championship persists, this scenario will happen with monotonous regularity.

Bernard Brogan's spectacular return to goalscoring form was one of the most significant things from this match because even the greatest forwards around, of which he definitely is one, can feel frustrated if they go through a long period without scoring a goal. Bernard did not hit the net with even one goal in the championship last year.

It will be interesting to see if any team will start trying to cash in on the new 'square-ball' rule. Playing Kevin McManamon at full-forward suggested that Dublin were thinking along those lines, but that was not the case. Maybe Pat Gilroy believes he does not need any new tricks this year.

Irish Independent

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