Contrary to expectations, I have no intention of driving the final nail into Dublin’s football coffin today.
But I still think they will be in the last four in the race.
Actually, the league wasn’t a total letdown for Dublin. Lee Gannon and Cian Murphy have done enough to show they can compete at this level.
Overall, players showed commendable spirit in Clones over the last 20 minutes as they retreated into a game that looked beyond them.
On a broader level, playing in Division 2 – assuming they secure promotion next spring – could prove beneficial as they continue to build the team.
I don’t expect James McCarthy, Jonny Cooper or Mick Fitzsimons to be in next season so more newcomers need to get blood.
Meanwhile, Dublin have issues to resolve ahead of this year’s championship.
First, her aura of invincibility is gone.
Opponents feel blood and go for the jugular instead of being content to keep the margin of defeat small.
Dublin’s defense is in tatters as evidenced by their conceding 11 league goals.
Stephen Cluxton would always be absent and they were unfortunate that Evan Comerford was absent last Sunday.
Michael Shiel had a meltdown with his kickouts and two of Dublin’s most experienced defenders, Fitzsimons and Cooper, had nightmare games.
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The latter has lost a meter of pace and I don’t think he’s mobile enough to take on the role of centre-back.
And team captain James McCarthy didn’t help matters by being sent off.
Their inability to capitalize on their scoring chances is proving costly.
On average in the league they destroyed three chances per game in which they scored only two goals from open play.
This is an ongoing issue as they only scored one goal from open play in the 2021 Championship.
Finally, the Sky Blues’ top performers struggle with their form.
Brian Fenton is among his best; Brian Howard was a marginal figure in some games; and Ciarán Kilkenny have been goalless in their last two games.
The return of Con O’Callaghan will be a huge asset but the Dubs need to work on their decision making and get their defense system in order.
The message is that Dublin is still breathing but as I said at the beginning there will be no All Ireland title for them in 2022.
Overall, Super Sunday exceeded all expectations.
Even Steven Spielberg would have done his job to come up with a more exciting script.
Three of Division 1’s four games were won by a single point. And the drama wasn’t limited to the top flight, either.
In a Division 2 relegation play-off, Offaly was a point clear and headed safely into injury time. Instead, two late points saved Cork.
The hype surrounding the U-20 All-Ireland’s success last season, Shane Lowry’s financial backing and the high-profile arrival of coach Tomás Ó Sé are only a distant memory of good times for Offaly.
They discovered three things this spring: the gap between U-20 and seniors, the gap between Divisions 2 and 3, and the difference in fitness between players from the top 12 counties and the rest are all significant.
The condition deficit cannot be fixed in one season. It’s a three to five year project so Offaly fans will have to be patient.
Cork have had to win their last two league games to remain in Division 2.
They showed great character to do so – and last Sunday their veteran players took the lead when it mattered.
Although I’m a Kerryman, I know how much the Munster Championship – and football in general – needs a county the size of Cork to compete at the highest level.
Two other thoughts came to me regarding the competition.
I can’t understand why Kerry was the only team really interested in reaching the Division 1 Finals.
The composition of the divisions for the 2023 league does away with the notion that success in football is solely determined by the population.
Leinster, the most populous province, has no team in Division 1, while the least populated, Connacht, has three.
Not only is Dublin, by far the most populous county in Ireland, not playing in the top flight, but four of the so-called commuter counties around them – Kildare, Wicklow, Laois and Offaly – have all been relegated.
https://www.independent.ie/sport/gaelic-games/gaelic-football/the-critical-issues-that-dublin-need-to-fix-but-all-ireland-title-is-beyond-them-this-year-41520178.html Pat Spillane: The critical issues Dublin needs to solve – but the All-Ireland title is beyond that this year