February 27, 2011 13:34 by JohnF
SOMEBODY sooner or later is going to be disappointed losing to Dublin.
Kerry last night became the third county to fall to them in the space of four weeks but the vanquished have all qualified their defeats by highlighting the Blues’ superior fitness.
Jack O’Connor cut a magnanimous and relatively contented figure in the press conference afterwards. After seeing his side stick Dublin for 1-15 (10 points coming from play), he’d some reason for consolation but not cheer. You wouldn’t have known he was the beaten manager.
It’s February and Dublin are in excellent shape while others are playing catch-up. Yes, both are factors but try telling them beating the two strongest teams in Division 1 doesn’t mean jack.
Granted, the wins have come at home but they have been two completely different victories. Against Cork, they were the better side. Last night, they weren’t. A total of 2-3 for 48 minutes of football in Croke Park was a terribly slim return and yet 13 minutes later they were four points ahead, 3-9 to 1-11.
Last weekend, they showed they have the ability to shut out teams. This weekend, they showed they can burn teams. Neither Cork or Kerry played with their full faculties but did Dublin starting with five of the team that lost last year’s All-Ireland semi-final? Before this game, we highlighted the need for Kerry goalkeeper Brendan Kealy to given an authoritative performance. His defence’s fingerprints were also on Dublin’s three goals (that’s 19 now in their six games this year) but he will know himself he could have done more to prevent them.
We also mentioned Kerry’s midfield and how happy O’Connor must have been that David Moran gave a stand-out performance. Even with Stephen Cluxton dropping balls into the hands of his midfielders with pinpoint precision, Moran starred on the big pitch.
Inside him, Donnchadh Walsh, like Pearse O’Neill the week before, benefitted from some slack marking from Declan Lally to make hay, providing assists and teeing up Colm Cooper for his second-half shot which was directed right at Cluxton.
Apart from that, Cooper was back in the groove. His partner Kieran Donaghy may have found the spoiling tactics of Sean Murray much to his disliking but Cooper was in sparkling form, showing Michael Fitzsimons a clean pair of heels.
It’s with the likes of Fitzsimons and Alan Hubbard in mind that Pat Gilroy will regard this as a flawed win. Dublin are shipping an average of 16 points a game. Fitzsimons is guilty of being too loose at times while Hubbard was being handed a lesson before David Geaney had to retire in the 21st minute injured.
Dublin also have selection questions elsewhere. Lally is great at getting forward but his marking isn’t so flash. Diarmuid Connolly flattered to deceive for a second week running while Eoghan O’Gara’s distribution was terrible. The player has a purpose and his strength is mighty but the further he’s from goal the better it is for Dublin’s opponents.
Kerry wanted to win very much last night. O’Connor’s remonstrations with the match officials near the end demonstrated that. They got a performance, all the same, that would suggest they could go undefeated for the rest of the campaign.
Dublin got nothing like the performance they desired but the points will more than do. Last night they were too cavalier, an ailment of their performances under Paul Caffrey.
But having built from the back last year, Gilroy is in the process of sophisticating his counter-attack brand of football. That’s where the onus lies right now. By the end of the league, he’ll want their scores conceded totals down. But as long as the wins keep on coming, he can smile.