Dublin go on a Wee rout and look like serious Sam contenders this season

by Gazette Reporter
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Dublin had a facile e 13th Leinster title  in a row victory procession against an outclassed Louth team at Croke Park on Sunday but it was the manner of their play, and the return of some stalwarts, which makes me optimistic that they could host Sam Maguire on Liffeyside by the end of high summer.

Yes, there are still a few areas to be ironed out but I expect that if Mick Fitzsimons returns at the back and if Dean Rock can make a bigger impact either starting or as a sub, then they won’t be far away.

I was also happy to see the newer brigade start to make a real impact with Sean Bugler man of the match after leading the forward line expertly from the ‘forty’, scoring 1-3 from play into the bargain.

Louth flattered to deceive in the opening 10 minutes but once Jack McCaffrey et al put on the afterburners, they scored their opponents 1-9 without reply and suddenly it was a turkey shoot we were witnessing, instead of a competitive final fixture. 

Winning by scoring 5-21 with a 21-point winning margin tells its own tale – there was no real contest but Dublin could only beat what was put out in front of them.

The manner of victory shows the gulf in class between the capital and the rest in the eastern province. And there is no sign of it closing except maybe for  Kildare following a good semi-final showing against the Dubs, followed  by their U-20 All Ireland success against Sligo at the weekend.

 Dublin  had this game won from the time Paul Mannion flicked home Con O’Callaghan cross goal pass midway through the first half. It is good to see the Kilmacud Crokes man back and even he would admit that there is still a lot more to come as he is still adjusting to life back at this level. Dublin is blessed to have O’Callaghan in its ranks as he is the brains of this  attack in the way he distributes the ball around. 

Jack McCaffrey  is a once-off  and unfortunately he had to go off injured midway through the first half  after scoring two points.  Manager Dessie Farrell will be delighted with his charges and the fact that  Bugler is emerging as a leader will also be a plus factor for the Blues boss. 

James McCarthy has been  a gem for over a decade and is still a master at dictating play from midfield alongside Brian Fenton. Macker showed great coolness to wrong-foot the entire
defence with his left-footed goal while goals near the end  from  subs Paddy Small and Colm Basquel showed there is strength back in the squad for the first time in three years.

Dublin will now enter the Group 3 of the Sam Maguire series, beginning with a game in Croke Park against Roscommon before meeting Kildare and Sligo. These are exactly the right sort of tests and conditions for a team to keep improving under but I don’t expect any of the three teams to offer a real threat. If that is the case, then Dessie’s boys will be in the quarter finals and it is game on from there to the final whistle of the All-Ireland final.


In England the race for the Premier League title ended on Sunday when Brighton whipped Arsenal 3-0 at the Emirates Stadium but there is still a fascinating race for the third and fourth place spots behind Man City and the Gunners.

I for one don’t believe it is a question of Newcastle finishing third with Man United and Liverpool fighting it out for fourth place. What about Brighton? They still have games in hand and if they win all their remaining fixtures, including a head-to-head against Newcastle, then they could be the big surprise of the year.

I commend Liverpool for the way they have turned their indifferent season around and they are finishing like a train. They should win their final two fixtures against  Aston Villa (who are the current form team along with the Reds and City) and already relegated Southampton. This means that United will have to win two of their last three games – away to Bournemouth and home to Chelsea and Fulham – none of which are ‘gimmies’.

Newcastle are only ahead of the Old Trafford outfit on goal difference so they too can’t afford any slip-ups or they could lose out in a blanket finish for third and fourth involving the four mentioned teams. We will know a lot more after tonight’s St James’ Park joust between the Magpies and The Seagulls.

The way I look at it is if Liverpool end up winning their last seven matches as seems likely, it is Champions League form. United have stumbled with tiredness, injury and poor form so they may be energised by the 2-0 victory over Wolves on Saturday last and the emergence after injury of Garnacho, who scored the second goal in that game. 

Either way, it should go all the way to the wire, just as the relegation battle will end up. I think Leicester are probably gone with Southampton which means that one big fish – either Everton or Leeds – could be the third club on the trapdoor to the championship.

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