Dublin 2-17 Limerick 1-11
Thirteen points up and cruising towards a second-gear victory and two handy league points, Dublin did enough wrong from the midway point yesterday in the Gaelic Grounds for Dessie Farrell to proclaim: “We looked like a Division 2 team in the second half.”
Which technically they are, of course. But on the basis of their first two performances, the notion of Dublin laying waste to this division may be been a tad premature.
Certainly, if Farrell maintains the current levels of experimentation with his team selection, Páirc Uí Chaoimh in two weeks should be far more interesting than any of the recent meetings between Dublin and Cork.
“We spoke about it at half-time in terms of complacency and keeping the tempo high and the intensity,” Farrell said.
“I think we started to… some of what affected us last week came into our game in that second half in terms of execution, shot efficiency, that type of thing. It takes on a life of its own then. It took us a while to correct that then.”
It took around 17 minutes. During that spell, Limerick – seemingly dead and buried at the break – scored 1-3 to no score and, improbable as it sounds, threatened to make a game of it.
They were seven points back and had missed a couple of chances, with the introduction of Hugh Bourke compensating for the loss of Cian Sheehan, their best player in the first half.
But having started the half in a muddle in front of goal, Dublin eventually recalibrated.
Ross McGarry, one of the few fringe players to truly excel, kicked his fourth point of the game and then Con O’Callaghan, Dublin’s magnetic force at full-forward, quickly added another and the visitors sped off into the February evening sunset.
The performance of his inside line, who contributed 1-13 of Dublin’s tally, was an obvious area of strength but Farrell was disinclined to ruminate too long on the positives.
“That was one of the pleasing factors,” he said. “But then, obviously, we had that lull in the second half, which… just again, some of the shot selection wasn’t great. The shot selection was definitely poor.
“You know, it’s annoying, that aspect of it. You’d look to see the consistency over the 70 minutes. That’s what we speak about, but we didn’t deliver on it today.”
For their part, Limerick looked overawed in the first half and for a while it seemed like they may not overhaul last week’s tally against Derry of 0-4.
“You have the situation where lots of them players would have watched Dublin dominate Gaelic games over the last 10/12 years,” their manager Ray Dempsey said.
“It’s a big day for the lads out there playing, so you have to be aware of that as well. They’ve looked up to these Dublin players, we’ve all looked up to them.”
It should be noted that Farrell was without anywhere up to 10 of his expected championship team.
Newcomer Daire Newcombe performed well in a full-back line that barely put a foot wrong in the first half, but most of heavy lifting was done by Dubs with summer jerseys already guaranteed.
Fresh from his torment at the hands of Shane McGuigan last week, Seán O’Dea was left to deal with O’Callaghan on his own yesterday and is unlikely to have relished the experience.
If anything, O’Callaghan was guilty of over-egging the pudding on a couple of occasions, seeking to bring others into moves he could quite simply have finished off himself.
But both goals; a Dean Rock penalty and a Brian Fenton batted rebound, were products of O’Callaghan’s work.
“There’s a little bit more to it,” replied Farrell when asked whether results and promotion were his main priorities.
“With every league, it’s an opportunity to experiment, try things out from a tactical perspective, strategies and obviously personnel.
“We’re trying to tick a number of different boxes and all the while, still be competitive and build from game to game.”
SCORERS – Dublin: D Rock 1-5 (1-0 pen, 3f); R McGarry, C O’Callaghan 0-4 each; B Fenton 1-0; G McEneaney, D Newcombe, L O’Dell, K O’Gara 0-1 each. Limerick: J Naughton 0-5 (4f); H Bourke 1-1; C Sheehan, A Enright 0-2 each; I Corbett 0-1.
DUBLIN – D O’Hanlon 7; S McMahon 7, D Newcombe 7, C Murphy 7; L Gannon 6, G McEneaney 7, T Lahiff 6; B Fenton 8, P Ó Cofaigh Byrne 6; N Scully 7, L O’Dell 6, C Kilkenny 7; R McGarry 8, C O’Callaghan 8, D Rock 7. Subs: C Basquel 6 for O’Dell (45), K O’Gara 7 for McGarry (60), A Fearon 6 for Gannon (64), S Lowry 6 for O’Callaghan (65), B Millist 6 for McEneaney (69)
LIMERICK – D O’Sullivan 6; A Connelly 7, S O’Dea 5, B Coleman 6; B Fanning 5, C Fahy 5, I Corbett 7; M O’Donovan 6, C McSweeney 5; P Maher 5, G Browne 5, C Sheehan 8; A Enright 7, J Naughton 7, D Lyons 5. Subs: H Bourke 7 for Lyons (22), K Ryan 6 for Sheehan (h-t inj), P Nash 6 for Browne (57), T McCarthy 6 for Donovan (60), R Bourke 6 for Enright (68).
REF – J Molloy (Galway)