As expected, Dublin enjoyed a relatively comfortable win in today’s Leinster SFC final at Croke Park. They had eight points to spare over Kildare and so the six-in-a-row All-Ireland champions now move forward to an All-Ireland semi-final meeting with our lads the weekend after next.
That semi-final has now been confirmed for 6pm on Saturday, 14th August at Croke Park. A maximum attendance of 24,000 has been set for this game so tickets will be as scarce as the proverbial hen’s teeth. My understanding is that tickets won’t go on general sale for the fixture but will instead be distributed via the club route in both counties.
Today’s Delaney Cup decider was a disappointingly pedestrian affair. Kildare, shorn of the services of three key players in advance due to injury, seemed to be in damage limitation mode from start to finish. They never really took the game to the champions at any stage.
Every time the Lilywhites attacked, they did so at an extremely slow pace and when they hit half-way the lateral hand-passing routine started. Their shooting was poor throughout as well, landing seven balls into Evan Comerford’s hands and as the game wore on their efforts at the posts became wilder and more wayward. Daniel Flynn’s excellent second half goal did, though, redress that balance somewhat.
Dublin, meanwhile, did what they had to do. They never took the vehicle out of second gear – because there was never any need to – and they picked off enough scores to win at their leisure.
Big game players such as Brian Fenton and, in particular, Con O’Callaghan didn’t fire at all today – the latter got just one point and he should have been done for overcarrying on that one as he took a dozen steps before getting his shot away – but Ciaran Kilkenny, Cormac Costello, Brian Howard and James McCarthy gave them sufficient forward impetus.
Dean Rock looked distinctly unimpressed when he got the curly hook ahead of the second water break but by then the game was won and he’d already contributed five points to the winners’ tally. He was, in fact, Dublin’s leading scorer on the day.
So Dublin stroll on to another All-Ireland semi-final. Their march through the moribund Leinster Championship wasn’t as impressive this summer as it’s been in other years but, then again, it didn’t have to be. The champions are back at the business end of the Championship without having a glove laid on them and without suffering any injuries to key players.
We can be sure they’ll be well ready for us the weekend after next and while their less than stellar form this year gives us renewed hope of finally getting the better of them, we all know just how hard this will be to achieve. But we also know that James Horan’s team will hit them with everything at their disposal in their pursuit of victory.
Dublin will obviously be the favourites to advance to yet another All-Ireland final but today’s match certainly gives James and his backroom team a few pointers to work on about the chinks that may be appearing in the champions’ armour. We’ll find out on Saturday week if this year, for the first time since 2012, the Dublin conundrum is one we’re capable of solving.