This column won't delay too long about the Dublin hurlers. We elucidated pretty much what we think all spring: They're making fine progress, have been starting from essentially scratch, yadda yadda yadda. This theory appeared to be blown out of the water by the Leinster semi-final. Dublin have now gone backwards say the scribes. Well firstly that wouldn't be too surprising when their best forward of note ( Dotsie O' Callaghan ) has been moving so tentatively around the field, likely weighed down by recurring injury. Concurrently rising star, and the teams other starting corner forward, David Tracey has been crippled by recurring hamstring problems. With Alan McCrabbe seemingly so disinclined to put his heart and soul into playing corner, pining, parrot-like for the open spaces of midfield, the balance of Anthony Daly's team has been seriously askew. Whether this malaise can be rectified in time for the Clare game is doubtful, ( Tracey may yet play some part ) so a manger who has never been averse to the two man full forward line may, ironically, find his hand forced. Certainly for Dublin to make some progress they have to develop more of a killer instinct in front of goal. They may though comfort themselves that Peter Kelly showcased an intriguing short cameo of his talents in the semi-final. ( short cameos have evidential value when they are against Kilkenny ) Also Tomas Brady, Oisin Gough and Joey Boland battled bravely and with no little talent for an hour, before the helplessness of their teams fate overcame them. Gough indeed looks like he was moulded by central casting for the key job of picking up Darach Honan.
The second reason not to lose all faith in Dublin would be that it is always perilous to write obituary's based on an unfortunate coming together with Kilkenny. Past experience has shown that teams can revive themselves when they subsequently operate in less rarified air. If Tracey and O'Callaghan can make some contribution on Saturday, Dublin, with Antrim likely awaiting, can still end the summer in the debit column.
Tipperary connections were quick after their non-event triumph against Wexford to state that it was only the first step on the road to redemption. Bit of a garbled phrase as it indicates that they are confident that they can continue to improve through quite a few other tests. On all known form this summer Offaly should give them their full of it, but the Premier County are perhaps more used to operating at a highish level, whilst Offaly may struggle to gird their loins on a third occasion. Certainly Tipp will have learned little, apart from perhaps that Brendan Maher can ( if Shane McGrath hits previous heights ) provide them with a superior midfield. Maher's covering of the ground and de luxe striking to find team-mates should have garnered him a man of the match award. But rather like Waterford's Richie Foley versus Clare his industry had to compete with a wing back that was floating over points for fun. In fairness at least Toomevara's David Young, unlike Declan Prendergast, played the full 70 minutes; but it's unlikely that someone like Brian Carroll or Derek Molloy will allow him to ease into the role of auxilary wing-forward. To these eyes Padraic Maher, Conor O' Mahoney and the aforementioned McGrath still aren't in the from of 2009. Whilst, in the reconfigured half forward line Gearoid Ryan and Patrick Maher looked to have all the skills a half forward requires, but in two bodies rather than one. Tip might have time on their side, and the usual nutters in their own tent have been silenced for now. Plus it is often forgotten that they are practically as callow as Clare, abeit much the more rounded current article. But one feels the missed goal chances in last years final, might still be a topic for gnashing of teeth in Tipp hostelries this winter.