Right, we’re a day closer and the coverage has started to ramp up about Sunday’s final. I’ll get to that, if time permits, later on but first I need to do an overdue piece on Sunday’s opponents, as has been my custom all summer for our upcoming matches in this year’s championship.
Let’s be honest here, though – this Dublin team need no introductions. All-Ireland champions four times since 2011, aiming to become the first team since the great Kerry side back in the Eighties to complete a three-in-a-row of Sam Maguire successes and lauded almost routinely at this stage as the greatest team of all time – you’ve heard of them, right?
You’ll also recall the last time we played them in the championship as well so no real need to go there either. Except maybe to note – for the benefit of all those pundits who seem to forget that we play a bit of ball at this time of year on a regular enough basis – that this year’s meeting with the Dubs will, including those two replays, be our seventh in the last six years. Bar 2014, we’ve met them every year in the championship since 2012 and this year will be the third time in five years that we’ve contested the final against them.
But this isn’t about us. Back to Dublin who this spring, despite apparently starting back training very late, managed to keep their unbeaten run going right up as far as the League final.
They started off with an 0-18 to 0-11 win over Cavan up at Breffni Park in Round 1 and six days later were a bit fortunate to claim a draw (0-10 to 1-7) against Tyrone under the lights at Croke Park. Two weeks later their unbeaten run survived another close shave up in Ballybofey, when they played out a 1-8 to 2-5 draw against Donegal.
Back at Croke Park the following Saturday night they gave us a right paddling, thumping us by 1-16 to 0-7. What I recall most from that night – aside from how poor we were – was the rather classless Cheerio chanting directed at us from the Hill. Fast-forward six months, though: we haven’t gone away, you know.
Round 5 two weeks later saw Dublin take to the road again, this time to Tralee where, for the third time in five outings, they ended sharing the spoils. That one finished 0-13 apiece. A week on from that, Roscommon were the whipping boys at Croke Park, going under by 2-29 to 0-14.
At the start of April, Dublin beat Monaghan up in Clones by 2-15 to 1-15 to finish up top of the Division One table, three points clear of Kerry who sneaked into the final by dint of superior points difference over Donegal, Monaghan and ourselves.
Going for five League titles in a row, seeking to extend their unbeaten run to 37 games and aiming to to inflict yet another defeat on their great rivals, the Dubs went into that Division One decider as strong favourites. Kerry had other ideas, however, and in a highly entertaining contest prevailed by a single point, on a scoreline of 0-20 to 1-16.
Onto the championship, where the Dubs were sent, as now appears to be the norm, on the road for their first outing in Leinster. Last year it was down to Kilkenny to play Laois, this year it was to the home of Laois GAA, O’Moore Park, to play Carlow. Riddle me that one.
Carlow, to be fair to them, gave Dublin a decent run in the first half of that Leinster quarter-final, the Barrowsiders only trailing by three at the break. When their star man, Brendan Murphy, picked up a second yellow with twenty minutes to go, however, they were goosed and Dublin cantered to an 0-19 to 0-7 win.
Dublin’s victory in Portlaoise that early June evening was, of course, overshadowed by DermoPushingTheLinesman-Gate. That incident, and the 12-week suspension that arose from it, ultimately saw the Vinnies’ man being forced to cool in the water he’d boiled in, remaining ineligible for selection until the All-Ireland semi-final.
Their annual perambulations over for the year, Dublin were back on familiar territory at HQ three weeks later. Walloping Westmeath is part of Dublin’s summer (those of an uncharitable bent could add that beating us as the weather is turning later in the year is also a hardy annual for them but we’ll let that one pass) and they fairly went to town on the hapless Lakesiders this year. 4-29 to 0-10 that one finished up.
Their provincial final win over Kildare was another facile victory. Dublin completed seven-in-a-row in the now moribund Leinster championship by overcoming the Lilies on a scoreline of 2-23 to 1-14.
Onto the All-Ireland Series where two training matches against Ulster opponents awaited them. First up it was Monaghan in the quarters, who were dispatched with calm efficiency on a scoreline of 1-19 to 0-12.
I don’t normally link to Martin Breheny’s colour-by-numbers pieces but the one he has in the Indo today – here – helpfully lists out the winning margins racked up by Dublin in each of their championship matches this summer. Martin – bless! – even hauls out his calculator and computes the awesome average from these raw numbers. Which, if you haven’t bothered to click on the piece, I can tell you is 15.
So, then, that’s the challenge we face on Sunday. Are we up for this at all at all? Let’s see what the temperature’s like on this year’s showdown with the Dubs.
Will we down the Dubs in the final?
- Yes (80%, 681 Votes)
- No (20%, 175 Votes)
Total Voters: 856