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Anthony Daly will be hoping his Dublin side can throw the kitchen sink at Clare on Sunday

Anthony Daly will be hoping his Dublin side can throw the kitchen sink at Clare on Sunday

Ray Ryan / SPORTSFILE

Anthony Daly will be hoping his Dublin side can throw the kitchen sink at Clare on Sunday

Anthony Daly won't be calling in the maintenance engineers to search for faults in the oven just yet, but after Dublin's half-baked (his description) performance against Galway last Sunday, he will have carried out his own temperature checks this week.

A defeat on a raw February afternoon has to be seen in a calm context, but nevertheless as Dublin supporters headed home from Pearse Stadium, the memory of two years ago must surely have crossed their minds.

Dublin started 2012 as reigning Division 1 champions and All-Ireland semi-finalists.

Hopes were high that the upward graph would continue on its steady ascent, but instead the season headed into a tailspin which left them relegated in April, demolished by Kilkenny in the Leinster semi-final in June and eliminated from the qualifiers by Clare in July.

POWERED

It was back to big business last year as Dublin powered to promotion, won the Leinster title for the first time since 1961 and ran Cork close in the All-Ireland semi-final.

They headed into this season with even loftier ambitions than two years ago but, similar to 2012, they lost their opening league game to Galway.

The only difference was that whereas the margin of defeat was seven points two years ago, it stretched to 13 points last Sunday. Pure coincidence, perhaps, but at the same time it adds to the intrigue as Dublin prepare to host Clare in Parnell Park next Sunday.

It would be overly dramatic to describe it as a 'must win' game for Dublin, but nonetheless the stakes are pretty high.

Dublin lost their second and third league games to Cork and Kilkenny by a point each two years ago and suddenly the pressure was on. The negative trend had been established and Dublin never recovered all season.

That's why it's so important for them to make a quick recovery on Sunday as they will be away to Waterford in the next round, scarcely the most appealing of fixtures if they are coming off two defeats. It's Kilkenny and Tipperary after that, so points will be extremely difficult to come by, especially if confidence levels have been drained by early-season setbacks.

Facing the ultra-confident All-Ireland champions just a week after being hit for 0-28 by Galway might look like the tallest of orders for Dublin, but, in actual fact, the clash with Clare could be coming at exactly the right time for them.

Clare were massively driven last Sunday, eager to complete the dual task of showing Kilkenny that a new force had arrived while also impressing their supporters in the 10,000 crowd.

They hit both targets, but Davy Fitzgerald said afterwards that replicating that level of intensity in every league game would be very difficult.

"I think we will be patchy at times because it is going to be hard for the lads to get up that high every day. If they do, they won't have much left in the tank come the middle of the year. We have to be very conscious of that," he said.

He also expects a massive backlash from Dublin, who know that a second defeat would really set the wrong tone for the new season.

"Dublin are going to come out and throw the kitchen sink at us. They will be like men possessed. My job is to get the lads back up to that high pitch again. It's just another thing we have to learn to deal with," he said.

It's a challenge for Fitzgerald but it's one Daly would love to have as he sources a kitchen sink to bring along to Parnell Park on Sunday.

Irish Independent