Tuesday 22 January 2019

Kenny hails Dublin's 'honest effort' after positives abound for new boss

Dublin 0-27 Offaly 0-18

John Hetherton of Dublin comes under pressure from Offaly’s Tom Spain (left). Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
John Hetherton of Dublin comes under pressure from Offaly’s Tom Spain (left). Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Conor McKeon

These may be the embryonic stages of the Mattie Kenny regime for Dublin hurling but all the very early indications are positive, even if context is essential.

It's mid-December, not traditionally the time of year for making grand claims about seasonal aspirations but chances are that few of Dublin's 2019 league matches will be played in conditions as calm as they were yesterday in Parnell Park when they put Offaly to the sword.

Eamonn Dillon of Dublin in action against Tom Spain of Offaly. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Eamonn Dillon of Dublin in action against Tom Spain of Offaly. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

"A good honest effort from all the lads," was how Kenny described the win, his second in a week following Tuesday's victory in the blizzard in Carlow. "In general they were trying to do the right thing with the ball most of the times and set up some nice scoring opportunities.

"They're the sort of things we're going to be working on going into the New Year."

The game was as competitive as hurling matches played on December 16 could possibly be.

Donnycarney was bitingly cold and the pitch cut up after a long and busy year. But both teams played with the clear intention of winning.

Cathal O'Brien of Offaly in action against Fergal Whitely of Dublin. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Cathal O'Brien of Offaly in action against Fergal Whitely of Dublin. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Largely, Dublin's brightest sparks were the same men who flickered in the storm in Carlow on Tuesday.

Despite some early signs of competitive rustiness, Eamonn Dillon continued his injury comeback yesterday, scoring four points and posing a constant, if ultimately unfulfilled, goal threat.

He was one of five Dublin players to register four points on the day.

Donal Burke, another forward who missed the important parts of Dublin's 2018, was one of that quintet.

Fergal Whitely of Dublin in action against Craig Taylor of Offaly. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Fergal Whitely of Dublin in action against Craig Taylor of Offaly. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Big John Hetherton meanwhile, gave a second encouraging performance in a week as Dublin's target man/back-up free taker, one that suggested he is better built for inter-county life now than he was this time last year when Pat Gilroy drafted him in.

David Treacy (0-4f) was replaced by half-time with what looked to be a hamstring injury, although Kenny intimated that it hadn't been severe.

Penetration

In midfield, Cian Boland brought straight-line pace and penetration to an area also featuring the impressive craft of the returning Seán Treacy.

Dublin led by five points at half-time - 0-15 to 0-10 - with James Gorman and Aidan Treacy the pick of the Offaly effort.

Dublin manager Mattie Kenny. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile
Dublin manager Mattie Kenny. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Offaly 'keeper Conor Glancy produced a stunning reflex save to deny Oisín O'Rorke in the second half while Seán Brennan, who was making his senior debut for Dublin, also drew the appreciation of a tiny crowd for a point-blank stop on Shane Kinsella, making amends for his own mistake to cede possession.

In the second half, Kenny ran his bench, making 12 subs in all as Dublin eased home and afterwards, he revealed that he would field an entirely different XV for next Saturday's annual Dublin Dubs/Herald Dubs Stars match in Naomh Barróg (1.30), their last outing of an eventful 2018.

"These two games, they were good this week, just to break the monotony of the gym," Kenny admitted. "But they're a really good bunch of lads.

"Like a lot of teams, they want to achieve as much as they can. And the preparation in December and January is key to that, for building for the league and building for the championship after that later on next year."

SCORERS - Dublin: D Burke, D Treacy (4f), E Dillon, J Hetherton (2f), C Boland 0-4 each, C Burke, F Whitely 0-2 each, F McGibb, D Keogh, R Hayes 0-1 each. Offaly: A Treacy 0-6 (4f, 1 '65), J Gorman 0-4, S Dolan, S Kinsella, K Connolly (1f) 0-2 each, C Taylor, C Egan 0-1 each.

DUBLIN - S Brennan; L Gannon, C O'Callaghan, B O'Carroll; T Connolly, C Crummey, S Barrett; C Boland, S Treacy; D Treacy, C Conway, F McGibb; J Hetherton, D Burke, E Dillon. Subs: F Whitely for D Treacy (32 inj), D Gray for Barrett (h-t), C Burke for Conway (h-t), L Walsh for Gannon (43), O O'Rorke for D Burke (46), Gannon for O'Carroll (47), D Keogh for O'Callaghan (55), R Hayes for Dillon (60), R Smith for Hetherton (65), G Whelan for Boland (65), D O'Flynn for McGibb (68), J Hetherton for Crummey (72).

OFFALY - C Glancy; D Healy, P Rigney, T Spain; C O'Brien, E Grogan, N Holihan; C Taylor, K Dunne; P Guinan, S Dolan, S Kinsella; K Connolly, A Treacy, J Gorman. Subs: M Egan for Healy (18), C Egan for Grogan (h-t), D Murray for Gorman (60), E Parlon for Guinan (60), E Callaghan for Treacy (70).

REF - D Hughes (Carlow)

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