Dublin’s high tempo pays dividends
Although Kildare didn’t help themselves with how they were set up
A dejected John Doyle of Kildare late in the Leinster semi-final. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
This outstripped my worst forebodings for Kildare by so much that you have to ask the question: are Dublin a super-team or have Kildare fallen seriously off the pace at this level of the game?
It’s probably a bit of both in that Kieran McGeeney’s trying to rebuild in Kildare while Dublin have a renewed focus this year under new management.
The big picture is impressive. They’ve a high work rate, and at a pace most teams aren’t familiar with and they’re also playing for each other, as they come out of defence and go forward. It’s a formidable combination.
Kildare though showed naivete in the way they set up, trying to play Dublin man to man and they’d no answer to the counter-attacking runs from Jack McCaffrey and James McCarthy down both flanks. Opposing half forwards have to mark the Dublin half backs because the pressure on the Kildare half backs was enormous and they’d no answer to the pace and the direct running coming from down the pitch.
Dublin also had a very mobile half forward line in which Ciarán Kilkenny was outstanding, always available for the outlet pass and covering a lot of ground.
It looked impossible to defend against but if Kildare are to take any positive out of it, I though their full-back line worked hard. Peter Kelly did well on Bernard Brogan and overall it was a manful effort but it was like keeping out the tide.
I also feel Kildare place too much emphasis on what to do with the ball as opposed to what to do when the other team has it. Their half backs weren’t close enough to their men – even before they got overwhelmed by the players hurtling past them from deeper positions.
The concession of scores turned into a haemorrhage and that was even though their ’keeper Shane Connolly made some fine saves. Dublin could have been more clinical, which is a frightening prospect when you consider they’ve just beaten Division One league semi-finalists by 16 points.
Pace is only part of the problem. Dublin’s skill level is good and they’re moving the ball well. I thought Michael Darragh Macauley, who at times has a tendency to take too much out of the ball, improved yesterday and moved quicker ball.
That’s in keeping with Jim Gavin’s whole philosophy of high tempo, attacking football. Look at them play and see how few lateral passes they execute and the workrate of players coming off the shoulder onto quick offloads.