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feisty affair Dublin don't have to press the Div 1 relegation panic-button yet - they might have to if Mayo beat them

Now's not a time to panic as clash of old rivals promises to be feisty affair

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Brian Howard’s deployment at centre-half is a surprise

Brian Howard’s deployment at centre-half is a surprise

Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne of Dublin

Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne of Dublin

Farrell’s key men have yet to return

Farrell’s key men have yet to return

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Brian Howard’s deployment at centre-half is a surprise

THERE'S a shot in golf called a power fade. It's not easy to execute, and when it goes badly wrong it can lead to big trouble for the golfer.

Well Dublin footballers are having their own power fade and they are going to have to figure a way out of it.

Simply put - in the last year of inter-county football, Dublin are not scoring enough.

Just 0-15 against Wexford in the first round of the Leinster Championship last year, before they produced decent returns against Meath and Kildare.

But then, a mere 14 points in a 90-minute, extra-time defeat to Mayo in the All-Ireland semi-final last summer, and 1-13 and 0-11 were recorded in the Allianz League defeats to Armagh and Kerry so far this year.

Notice too, how few goals Dublin scored in the matches I quoted above, and they got none against Kildare either in the Leinster Final.

Yes, a major problem for Dublin is that they are not running up the scores of old.

How could they? Over the last few years, the team has lost once-in-a-generation ­talents from the attack, men such as Bernard Brogan, ­Diarmuid Connolly and Paul Mannion.

Magnificent subs Kevin ­McManamon and Eoghan O'Gara are gone too.

To expect their replacements, in the team and in the squad, to be as good is just not credible.

Sport goes in cycles, it does not happen that a new Connolly or Mannion will come along just as the original is lost.

It is not yet time to panic. After all, it is very possible that this year's Dublin full-forward line in the championship will be Paddy Small, ­Cormac Costello and Con O'Callaghan.

So far, the league contribution of those three has been Cormac's opening 20 minutes against Armagh - and that's it. So there is power to come back to the colours.

But it is not just a question of flicking on a switch, with time to choose when you try to flick the switch.

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Remember the old days of the inter-county scene shutting down in April and the All-Ireland final stretching deep into September.

Not any more, the All-Ireland final is little more than five months away, the championship is two months away. Time is of the essence.

I wondered last week, in my column after the Kerry match, were the management a little naive in continuing to go man-to-man with Kerry when a man down and playing into a howling gale in the first half.

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Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne of Dublin

Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne of Dublin

Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne of Dublin

Now I must ask too, are they robbing Peter to pay Paul by picking Brian Howard at centre-back?

If they see Brian as the long-term centre-back for the year, then go ahead.

But with Mick Fitzsimons, Jonny Cooper, James McCarthy and Eoin Murchan all to come back from injury, the defence is not short of experienced bodies soon to be called on.

The attack is short of power, it is short of pace and physicality - and Howard, to me, is needed there or at least in midfield alongside Brian Fenton.

Here Dessie Farrell and his back-room staff have been unlucky.

They wanted to have a good look at Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne beside Fenton in the league. Now the word is that he will miss most of the competition through injury.

People have criticised Dublin's patient, hand-passing, tactics in attack as they look at what is happening of late.

But those tactics have evolved over the last few years, and All-Ireland titles were won with them.

What has changed is the quality of player executing the tactics, and there is not much Dessie can do about that - this is not a sport where

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Farrell’s key men have yet to return

Farrell’s key men have yet to return

Farrell’s key men have yet to return

you can buy a quality replacement player for a position in which you are short.


Dublin don't have press the Division One relegation panic-button yet - they might have to if Mayo beat the Sky Blues in Croke Park next Saturday night.

A loss there would leave Dublin pointless with four games to play, with just Donegal to come to Croker.

They will be on the road against Kildare, Tyrone and Monaghan.

This match with Mayo will be a feisty affair under the Saturday night lights.

The Green and Red will want back-to-back wins against the team that thwarted them so often, on the ground where they thwarted them so often.

Dublin will want the points badly.

They will also want to ­respond, in the right way, to the Mayo County's Secretary's outrageous remark in his Annual Report last year about how Dublin came onto the pitch for the second half of the All-Ireland semi-final with 'their usual arrogance'.

Now the Dublin team of 2011-20 was accused of many things, but arrogance was never one of them.

I've never heard a Dublin player or member of management belittle an opponent, or assume a victory before it was achieved.

Indeed, the team has been criticised over the years for giving too many interviews in which they talked up future opponents, when the bookies made the Dubs 1/20 favourites for that match.

It was a strange thing to write.

I can assure all down in Mayo that the comments were certainly noticed, and served to raise a few eyebrows in Dublin GAA circles.

And I suspect that a few of the Dublin players might use the comments to stoke the fires in the pre-match dressing room. This could be tasty.

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