Kickhams defender John Small has had a testing year so far for Dublin, but he’s still a key ingredient.
There’s one more game in this year’s Super 8 competition before the pairings are decided for the Semi Finals. Those games will take place on August 11th and 12th, only one week after phase 3 finishes. And after next weekend Dublin will know who their opponents will be following their clash with Roscommon in Croke Park.
Last weekend the Dubs stood up to a strong challenge from Tyrone in front of over 16,000 in Omagh. The result made it two for two in the new competition stage. And following suspension, Jim Gavin put his faith in defender John Small to be the man to mark Peter Harte.
Small will choose to forget the Leinster Senior Football Campaign for a number of reasons. Injury had diminished his involvement in the early stages of the competition. And when he entered the fray in the final against Laois it was a very short lived experience.
One Game Suspension Upheld
On 52 minutes, Small was brought on in place of Michael Darragh Macauley and got into the action immediately. Within 5 minutes, he accidentally caught Laois forward Evan O’Carroll in the face and the referee Barry Cassidy issued a straight red card.
“It was a bit unfortunate the way it transpired”, Small told the Herald. “I just tried to tackle the ball.”
Indeed on video evidence it certainly looks as though the Dublin star strikes the ball and his hand bounces off it toward O’Carroll’s face.
With the CHC upholding Small’s one match suspension, it meant he would miss Dublin’s opening Super 8 tie with Donegal. But once that was done, Gavin made no hesitation to name Small immediately for their away trip to Omagh.
“It’s great that the management have the trust to put me in and trust that I can do my job for the team, and I’m delighted that they did that. It was great to get the opportunity to play.”
And trust him they did, as Small put in a great performance for 64 minutes until he was replaced by Darren Daly. Such is the strength of Dublin’d bench yet again.
“I had a bit of an injury earlier on and was obviously suspended then for the Donegal game, so it was great that I got put back in.”
“There’s great competition all over the pitch and everyone is fighting for their position and fighting for a jersey.”
Roscommon Up Next
Dublin have one more test before the Semi Finals, a test in which the outcome has absolutely no bearing on the final standing for either team no matter the result. But Small believes the focus of the Dubs will not go beyond Roscommon until the game is over.
“Everyone is fighting for a position, everyone wants their opportunity to represent the group and the fact that we have another game is great.” He admits.
“Roscommon pose a very different threat than Tyrone do, and they are a different animal.”