DUBLIN WILL BE anxiously waiting for news on James McCarthy’s knee injury after the midfielder hobbled off in the 32nd minute of yesterday’s comfortable Leinster final victory.
The three-time All-Star was on crutches after the game with an icepack strapped to his right knee. It’s unclear at this stage how serious the injury is, but Dublin will be praying it’s not the dreaded torn cruciate – which could spell the end of his season.
Jim Gavin typically gave little away in his post-game press conference.
“We’ll have a look over the next 48 hours. The medical protocols will kick into place. We’ll reassess early next week.”
The Ballymun Kickhams star suffered medial knee ligament damage that caused him to miss some of their 2016 championship campaign. He also had keyhole surgery in his left knee last November to clear up a niggle, which saw him miss the league opener against Cavan.
Paddy Small is another injury concern after he limped off with what appeared to be a hamstring problem. Jonny Cooper wasn’t part of the matchday 26 as he continues to recover from a foot injury, but Gavin says he’s “close” to a return.
“Too soon for this game, but Jonny is back so hopefully we’ll see him soon.”
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Dean Rock arrived off the bench with 18 minutes left and immediately gave his manager a stark reminder that he has gone nowhere.
The 29-year-old scored 0-4, firing over three points in the space of one productive 120 second spell. It was a reminder of the pre-Gavin days when Rock had to be content with the role of impact sub – one that he has long since outgrown.
He also provided the pass for Con O’Callaghan’s well-taken goal in the 68th minute and blazed his own goal chance narrowly wide shortly after.
The battle to be Dublin’s free-taker heading into the business end of the summer took an interesting twist. Cormac Costello came into this weekend as the top scorer in the country but it was noticeable how he missed a close-range free shortly after Rock’s introduction.
He scored just three of his seven shots at the posts and Rock looked far more clinical and confident once he arrived into the fray.
“He’s played his part, he’s been training well over the last couple of weeks.
“I think over the expanse of the game we probably had ten scorers I’d say. He’s a forward, he’s there to execute those scores and he did well.”
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It marked the 17th out of 20 available titles Dublin have now picked up during Gavin’s tenure. The 2014 All-Ireland, and the 2017 and 2019 leagues are the only occasions when they’ve failed to deliver the silverware on offer.
“If you go down to that Dublin dressing room, you’ll see how much it means.
“But from the players’ perspective, it’s like their first win up there in the Leinster final.
“They’re just so happy and I’m happy for them because I saw the preparation and work they’ve put in over the past number of weeks preparing for the game and they traded off that today and thankfully they got the result.”
As Leinster champions, Dublin will join Connacht winners Roscommon in Group 1 alongside Cork and Cavan – 0r the team that beats them in the backdoor.
Dublin will play their first game at Croke Park against a qualifier team before they face Anthony Cunningham’s side at the venue in their ‘neutral game’ and the final tie away from home.
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