Jim Gavin’s men will focus on next challenge against Galway this weekend after defeat to Monaghan
Round 1 is now in the past. The Allianz Football League Campaign is up and running. Wins at the weekend for Kerry, Galway, Mayo, and of course Monaghan. The men from the Farney county hold the accolade of beating Dublin in two consecutive league encounters. And it’s grabbed the usual headlines.
Yes, this win was quite different to the one they snuck against the Dubs in Croke Park last year, but for many it’s an opportunity to start over analysing the reigning League, Leinster and All Ireland champions. An opportunity that, quite frankly, doesn’t come around too often.
“Magnificent Monaghan Stun Dublin”, “Monaghan Turn A Corner As New Star Emerges”, “Monaghan Topple All Ireland Champions Once Again….” and so on, and so on, and so on.
Let’s be honest, no one is taking anything away from the Ulster side, not at all. Malachy O’Rourke’s panel had quite big year in 2018 and have started 2019 upbeat. As mentioned they stole a win against Dublin in the last round of the league. A last gasp point from Fintan Kelly in Croke Park ended Dublin’s unbeaten run. But they missed out on a slot in the League Final having been beaten by Galway in Round 5. And with Dublin’s draw against the Tribesmen giving them an extra point it sent the Dubs through.
Fermanagh struck them out of the Ulster Championship, but thanks to a few wins against Waterford, Leitrim and Laois, they fought their way back into the Super 8’s. They saw off Kildare without a hitch, had Kerry beaten but David Clifford has other ideas, and got retribution over Galway to finish top of Group 1. And one score seperated them and Tyrone in the All Ireland Semi Final, with Tyrone going on to face Dublin for the Championship.
What to consider from Sunday and beyond
Sunday’s opener in Clones was never a forgone conclusion for Dublin. No game is anymore. And there were a lot of factors to take into account for Jim Gavin facing Round 1.
Dublin were without Stephen Cluxton, Jack McCaffrey, Ciarán Kilkenny and James McCarthy. But nevertheless it was a cracking game of football from both sides. And this gave Gavin the opportunity to have a look at the likes of Conor Mullally and Cormac Costello. He also sprang Ryan Basquel, Conor McHugh and Cian O’Connor from the bench. Basquel in particular was lively scoring 0-02. Make no mistake, Jim Gavin will be disappointed to lose, but it will have served him a rare opportunity, ones that will become far and few between as we approach the summer.
While it’s not a exclusive problem for Dublin, the new rules, and their interpretation will cause a headache for a lot of teams over the coming weeks. But as Gavin rightly pointed out post match, they’ll be gone by the Championship. Losing two players to black cards for long periods will have affected Dublin. Also the advance mark rule gave Monaghan some opportunities to capitalise on.
But let’s weigh up the facts. Dublin have only lost 8 out of 53 League games since Jim Gavin took over for the 2013 Season. Monaghan have beaten them twice. Kerry have beaten them twice. As have Cork. Derry and Tyrone have also registered wins against the Boys in Blue.
In 2015 Dublin lost 2 Round games, but still qualified for the knockout stages and won the League. Cork beat Dublin in Round 1 and Dublin went on to beat them in Final. That was an away game for the Dubs. But we don’t believe in Omens.
This Saturday night, Dublin’s focus will turn to Galway. A team Dublin know well after last year. And all of Jim Gavin’s attention will be on that game and that game alone.