Right, the countdown is on ahead of our NFL Division One Round 4 clash with Dublin at Croke Park this coming Saturday evening. This one throws in at HQ at 7pm that evening and the match will be preceded by the LGFA NFL Division One fixture between the same counties at 5pm.
The ref for the lads’ game is Barry Cassidy from Derry. This is the second time this year that we’ll have had the pleasure of his company – he also took charge of our Round 1 meeting with Roscommon last month.
We’ve had plenty of recent history against Dublin, from our perspective all of it, sadly, ultimately fruitless. These meetings have included a number of high-quality, toe-to-toe Championship clashes but last year, for the first time in a while, we only came up against them in the spring.
After that League meeting at MacHale Park in February of last year – which was also in Round 4 – Dublin went on to win the competition, for the fifth time in six years. They had, however, a teensy-weensy wobble on their way to the trophy.
There was no sign of that the night they comfortably glided past us in Castlebar, nor was there at Croke Park two weeks later when they handed out a 12-point drubbing to Kerry. But then they could only draw against Galway at Pearse Stadium and went on to lose to Monaghan at Croke Park in the final round.
That meant Galway topped the Division One table but Dublin, despite losing Niall Scully to a second yellow with twenty minutes left to play, beat the Tribesmen with a bit of ease in the Divisional decider.
There were no hiccups from the Dubs on their way to Sam either. Rarely in the modern era has a county sauntered through a Championship campaign without having a glove laid on them but that happened last summer in a Championship that was completely devoid of drama.
Our respective calamities meant that Dublin didn’t have to get past either ourselves or Kerry to win the four-in-a-row. Instead, it was Galway and Tyrone that Dublin faced at the business end, with the Tribesmen in the semi-final and then the Red Hands in the final swatted aside with contemptuous ease.
For a change, this year’s League campaign hasn’t started well for Dublin, though I doubt Jim Gavin will be losing any sleep over this unexpected turn of events.
Monaghan beat them by 2-13 to 1-13 in Clones in the opening round, they had a comfortable 1-15 to 0-7 win over Galway at Croke Park in Round 2 and then lost a testy encounter to Kerry in Tralee last time out, going down by the minimum margin on a scoreline of 1-18 to 2-14.
This early season dip in form combined with our positive start hands us a rare opportunity heading to Croke Park on Saturday. Nobody for one minute believes Dublin are in danger of relegation from the top tier but if we beat them the next night then it’ll also mean we’ll have ended any remaining hopes they might have of winning yet another League title this time round.
Lest we be getting ahead of ourselves, though, it’s worth recalling our recent League record against Dublin. I don’t need to tell you that it’s pretty poor.
We last beat them in the NFL back in 2012, when Pat Gilroy was their manager and when James Horan was getting into his stride for us first time round. Conor Mortimer broke Joe Corcoran’s long-standing record as the county’s all-time top scorer that memorable evening at MacHale Park where we won by twelve points. We went on to beat them, by three, in that year’s All-Ireland semi-final, a victory that remains our most recent success against them.
Since then – barring a few draws – it’s been defeats all the way for us. The total, across League and Championship, since the start of 2013 reads: P 13 W 0 D 3 L 10. The aggregate score from those thirteen games comes to 22-177 to 7-173. Note, in particular, the yawning disparity between the sides in terms of goals scored.
The bookies have, clearly, run the numbers ahead of setting their prices for this one. Dublin, as you’d expect, are red-hot favourites to win yet again: Paddy Power have them priced at 1/3, while a wild punt on us is available at 3/1.
Right, now that I’ve sobered you up a bit, what do you think yourself – will Saturday evening see more pain from our perspective or could this be the night when we finally get a long overdue win against them? Let’s end with a vote on that one.
How will we do against Dublin?
- Lose (43%, 319 Votes)
- Win (41%, 308 Votes)
- Draw (16%, 121 Votes)
Total Voters: 748