John Mullane - Eoghan O'Donnell


Waterford Hurling Legend John Mullane loads the praise onto Dublin defender Eoghan O’Donnell


When someone who played over 100 games for his county and captured five All Star awards in a career spanning over a decade mentions your name you pay attention. And with the knowledge former Waterford hurler John Mullane has about the game, it’s high praise indeed for Dublin’s Eoghan O’Donnell.

Dublin put in a massive shift yesterday, running All Ireland Champions Limerick close in the League Semi Final. But Limerick’s experience got them over the line in the end as they now look to win a league title against Waterford.

In addition, while some have criticised Dublin’s tactics of clogging up the middle of the park, Mullane has come to the defence of Dublin manager Mattie Kenny. And the RTE pundit has gone as far as tipping Dublin for a big summer.

“For 50 minutes of that game, Dublin were excellent.” Mullane proclaimed on this week’s episode of The Throw in.

“When you are facing Limerick, they try to get more numbers than the opposition into the middle third and then work the ball into the space for their inside forwards.”

“If you are Mattie Kenny yesterday, you are trying to counteract that and get extra bodies around the middle third and an extra body in front of his own fullback line to protect the space that Limerick are so good in.”

Dublin’s mean defence has been crucial

Apart from the four goals conceded in their win over Waterford earlier in the league and Seamus Flanagan strike yesterday, Dublin’s defence has been a tough nut to crack for teams, and Mullane singled out Whitehall Colmcilles man O’Donnell as the backbone. Dublin have kept clean sheets against Carlow, Offaly, Galway, Laois and Tipperary.

“Eoghan O’Donnell, I’ve been flagging this fella for the last two or three years and by God, what a fullback they have. Their two halfbacks, Chris Crummey and Shane Barrett, you won’t get much change out of them. They were excellent on Gearoid Hegarty and Tom Morrissey.”

“Dublin have the best fullback in the country and I’m delighted he is getting the recognition he deserves.”

More forward consistency

In twelve months Dublin have increased their league goal haul from five last year to nine in this league campaign, which is much improved. But while there have been some great performances from Eamonn Dillon, Oisin O’Rorke and Liam Rushe, Mullane believes Dublin have yet to land a Marquee Forward and a consistent goal scorer in comparison to other sides that will be gunning for green flags in the championship.

“A marquee forward like Aaron Gillane, Joe Canning, TJ Reid where you are guaranteed 11 or 12 points every game. They have a problem with their free-taker.”

“They have Conal Keaney to come back and Liam Rushe and Mark Schutte but they are missing a marquee player in the forward line”