Dublin ready to take on the Rebels

Updated: Saturday, 07 Apr 2012 13:24

Pat Gilroy has made changes for the visit to Cork
Pat Gilroy has made changes for the visit to Cork

The last two holders of the Sam Maguire will meet in Páirc Uí Chaoimh with a place in the Division 1 semi-finals at stake.

While Cork can afford a draw and still qualify, Dublin need a win to be certain of making the knock-out stages.

The Dubs were soundly beaten by Mayo last week and manager Pat Gilroy has reacted by wielding the axe.

Consistency has been an issue for both sides, and the Dubs’ new-look side may struggle to gel.

Even though there was 12 points between the sides in Castlebar last weekend, it was more the manner of the defeat than the defeat itself that would have hurt Dublin.

An almost frantic work-rate has been the hallmark of the side under Gilroy, but that trait was markedly absent as Mayo players were given the freedom of McHale Park to gain possession and pop over point after point (20 in total).

It was all well and good for Bryan Cullen (by no means the worst of the Dublin players on show) to admit afterwards that the Metropolitans were guilty of complacency, but it was not like this had not happened before.

Only a few weeks earlier, Down had scored a victory against the Dubs. While that wasn’t as emphatic a defeat, it should have served as a wake-up call for the All-Ireland champions.

Gilroy’s selection for Sunday shows changes in both personnel and positions. Seán Murray comes in to midfield to partner Eamon Fennell, while Michael Dara Macauley moves up to centre-forward.

The strangest switch sees defender Craig Dias named at corner-forward.

While Gilroy probably had to act decisively, it is hard to see how the XV he has named could get the better of Cork on their own patch.

The Rebels currently lie in second place on seven points, but it has been far from plain sailing for them. It took a last-gasp Donncha O’Connor point to snatch a victory against Mayo a fortnight ago, and even the most ardent Cork fan would admit that the Leesiders were more than fortunate to collect all two points that day.

But a win is a win and Conor Counihan’s men look a good bet to make the semi-finals and maintain their bid for a third consecutive league title.

The hosts will have a more settled side than their opponents, with Graham Canty returning from injury and Paul Kerrigan replacing the suspended Mark Collins.

Verdict: Cork