| 13.3°C Dublin

Daly's troops must bounce back to avoid old failings

Close

Dublin manager Anthony Daly

Dublin manager Anthony Daly

Ray Ryan / SPORTSFILE

Dublin manager Anthony Daly

IT MAY be 'only February' but so abject was Dublin's performance in their National Hurling League opener against Galway last weekend that it has already set off alarm bells.

Even allowing for losing Conal Keaney to a second yellow card after 40 minutes, their display was so appalling that some reckoned it was their worst ever performance in Anthony Daly's five-year reign and that they were lucky to escape from Salthill with just a 13-point loss (0-28 to 1-12).

It came on the back of losing the Walsh Cup final to an under-strength Kilkenny by four points.

Against Galway, Dublin started 12 of the team that played Cork in last year's All-Ireland semi-final. Their opponents had far more rookies and were also without their Portumna crew. That's why losing, by such an alarming margin, in Salthill, created some flashbacks.

Back in 2011, Daly's side looked to have made a massive breakthrough by winning the league, contesting the Leinster final and only losing an All-Ireland semi-final to Tipperary by four points.

But when the 2012 season arrived they lost their league opener in Salthill by seven points and failed to rediscover their 2011 form.

They bounced back last year by beating Kilkenny en route to that Leinster title but starting this season's league so badly is a worry.

SOLVE

They are going to have to sort out their problems immediately as Daly's native county and reigning All-Ireland champions Clare are coming to town next weekend.

Midfield mis-fired against Galway, their All Star central defenders did not produce the goods, and corner-back is still a problem area they're trying to solve, with Cuala rookies Cian O'Callaghan and Simon Timlin given the job last weekend.

Inconsistent free-taking is another problem – Paul Ryan missed one howler – but Keaney and the returned Alan McCrabbe offer options there.

The half-time puck-out stats were 14-1 to Galway, as Dublin's half-forwards struggled against the Galway half-back line.

Daly has quickly eschewed the notion that their poor start is a portent of their 2012 form.

"I wouldn't think like that, if I did I wouldn't get out of bed at all in the morning," he stressed.

"Every time is different; You can't say this is going to be a replica of the season two years ago. If it is, Kilkenny are going to win the All-Ireland," he quipped.

As Daly said, Dublin don't do "half-baked" well but they're going to have to find a happy medium if they're to survive in Division 1A.

Perhaps the biggest consolation was that Clare were heavily beaten by Tipp in the Waterford Crystal final yet immediately bounced back to beat Kilkenny last weekend.

Dublin now need to produce a similar backlash against them.

Irish Independent