Disappointing Dublin

Dublin's wait for a championship win over Cork is now 93 years and counting.

When the Dubs beat Galway in Leinster last year, it seemed like a watershed moment.

Under new manager Mattie Kenny, they had beaten one of the All-Ireland contenders for the first time since their provincial triumph in 2013.

Then came that surprise defeat to Laois in the preliminary quarter-final.

This campaign, Dublin started with intent, demolishing Laois and running Kilkenny to within a point after conceding three first-half goals.

They looked to be the team coming in with momentum in their clash against Cork but were off the pace from the start. Their forwards struggled to win possession and their backs couldn’t handle the speed of the Cork forwards, who were given a huge amount of room.

Kenny made the valid point in the aftermath that Dublin were the only team that had had to play matches on three consecutive weekends but it was a display that challenged the idea he can hope to repeat Cuala's All-Ireland success with the county side.

Next year is the last of the three years he agreed to take the team for, and he and the county board will surely expect to see more progress if his term is to extend beyond that.

Rebels renewed

Cork's Jack O'Connor gets away from Dublin's Paddy Smyth

A big part of Cork’s success was the impact of the two championship debutants, Declan Dalton and Jack O’Connor.

Former minor goalkeeper Dalton bagged 1-01 at full-forward while O’Connor scored a point from play and set up several scores for colleagues with his blistering pace.

Kieran Kingston had to make changes after the dispiriting defeat to Waterford and the returning Luke Meade and Robbie O’Flynn also helped to make Cork far more competitive in the middle of the field.

They will now go into Saturday’s qualifier clash against old rivals Tipperary with rebuilt confidence.

Clare questions

On The Sunday Game last night, Dónal Óg Cusack suggested that "All of the counties will be hoping they get Clare in that draw."

It was a cutting but probably accurate comment.

Playing the last 40 minutes with 14 men obviously played a part but Clare just about clung on to beat Laois by a point having been six ahead midway through the second half.

Their tally of 0-27 was only one more than they managed in defeat to Limerick (1-23).

Manager Brian Lohan suggested that Laois took all three of their goal chances but that in itself should be a concern. At the other end, Enda Rowland made two good saves to deny Ryan Taylor and Shane O’Donnell.

The flip side is that Clare will probably also be happy with the draw, given how poor Wexford were first day out against Galway.

It will be interesting to see whether the Banner appeal David McInerney’s red for what Lohan called "a jostle" on Mark Kavanagh - TV replays suggested it was harsh unless there was more egregious behaviour not captured on camera.

David versus Brian

Brian Lohan (L) and Davy Fitzerald during their playing days

The term 'grudge match’ is usually hyperbole when used in a sporting sense but it will be fitting for Clare’s clash against Wexford this weekend.

Davy Fitzgerald and Brian Lohan were the goalkeeper and full-back on Clare’s All-Ireland winning teams of 1995 and 98, and firm friends off it.

That changed in 2014 when Fitzgerald’s LIT team met Lohan’s UL in the Fitzgibbon Cup and sparked a pre-match row with their opponents by warming up in the area where the hosts had already laid out their training equipment.

Lohan was furious and the former team-mates haven’t spoken since.

The following year, Lohan enraged Fitzgerald by calling for an "independent" review of Clare hurling the following year – when Davy was manager and his father Pat county secretary.

Earlier this year, Fitzgerald reflected on the loss of his friendship with a man he said in his autobiography had been "as close to me as a brother" .

"Maybe we should be big enough to forget about it and move on, there are a lot more important things in life," he told RTÉ Sport.

A handshake this weekend would be a welcome surprise but with one team set to exit the championship, it would seem an unlikely prospect.

Laois lament

Laois manager Eddie Brennan

For Laois, it was another case of what might have been.

Manager Eddie Brennan said afterwards that they had genuinely believed they could beat Clare and rued the failure to take what he called "an unbelievable opportunity."

Ross King went off injured after 25 minutes, having scored 1-02 and Mark Kavanagh might not have been fully fit, having only managed a half against Dublin, but scoring only 17 points won’t win you many championship games these days.

According to @GAA_Stats on Twitter, it was only the 10th time that a team who scored three goals more than their opponents lost a championship game.

Even in a year many thought would be a leveller, the shocks that we have seen in the football championship haven’t been repeated in hurling – Waterford beating Cork was only a surprise given how they had underperformed since reaching the 2017 All-Ireland final.

Still Laois, will feel they are forcing a crack in the shutters of hurling’s closed shop. Getting Brennan back for a third year, which he has hinted might depend on better resources for the team, would be a big step in that direction.

Pointing the way

In the wake of the opening weekend of the championship, there was much debate over the high points tallies racked up, particularly by Limerick (0-36).

It is therefore interesting to note that while the average number of points scored per team on 24/25 October was 28 points, that dropped to 23 points per team on Halloween weekend and was just under 23 (22.75) last weekend.

More challenging weather likely played a part, so it’s probably too early to declare hurling is in the midst of a low- scoring crisis…