All-Ireland champions Dublin set their stall out for the summer when they blew Louth apart in the Leinster Championship quarterfinal on Sunday by a score of 2-22 to 0-12, but midfielder Denis Bastick says there is even more to come from the Blues.
The 16 point win was no more than Dublin deserved on a day when Bernard Brogan returned to the team and to form after his winter layoff.
“I think we need to try and be better than we were last year,” said Bastick, a late call-up to the starting team after an injury to Michael Darragh McAuley, in an interview with the Irish Sun.
“If we try and do the same as last year I don’t think it’s going to be enough so we need to try and improve on that and be professional and be machine-like and do whatever is needed.
“We’re just trying to improve with each game and we need to get better from the next game and build it up. A few weeks after September last year, fellas were just concentrating on next year again. We were waiting a long time for that game so I don’t think it’s going to be hard to keep it up.”
Manager Pat Gilroy also reckons Dublin have more to offer in the coming weeks. “I don’t think it was an unbelievable performance, a lot of things ran our way,” he said.
“We have been anxious to get out and play. It has been a long time since the league finished and we were just keen to get out playing football.
“We were a lot more at it in the first half and I suppose we were playing against a far stronger breeze in the second half, but our finishing could have been a lot better.
“We have been on the receiving end of days like that in Croke Park and the big pitch can really hurt. We were preparing for a tough game and for the early part of that game and it was a tough game.”
Dublin captain Bryan Cullen picked up a facial injury during the match, but boss Gilroy is confident he will be fit for the Leinster semifinal.
“There are concerns that there might have been something wrong with his cheekbone because it was swelling so much. Hopefully it’s all right. He’ll go and get an X-ray on it,” said Gilroy.
He added that midfielder Macauley missed the Louth game after falling off his bicycle last week.
“He crashed on his bike during the week -- a push bike -- and damaged his midriff,” said Gilroy.
“We thought he was going to be all right, but when we went to push off in training on Saturday he just couldn’t do it so we’ll have to investigate it a bit further.”
Louth boss Peter Fitzpatrick had nothing but praise for Dublin and no excuses for his team’s defeat.
Fitzpatrick said: “As far as I was concerned, the team was “I have been involved in football a long time and I’ve never seen a team so strong and so physical. They’ve got a game plan. Their support play is good. Everything is fantastic about them,” he said.
“Honestly, I am gobsmacked by the performance of Dublin. I have never seen a team so hungry, especially in the first round of the championship.”
KERRY boss Jack O’Connor says it is win or bust against Cork in the Munster football semi-final this Sunday.
The Kingdom must go into Cork’s backyard for the weekend’s biggest game, with O’Connor well aware of the significance of the result.
“You see every one of these games as a big game because, if you win, it gives you great confidence to drive on, whereas if you lose it, psychologically, it can be damaging. That’s the big danger,” O’Connor said.
“When you lose one of these big games, you start questioning yourself and players starting questioning themselves. It’s happened in the past.
“We lost to Cork in 2006 and 2009. We recovered after both of those setbacks to win the All-Ireland but it took an awful lot of hard work.
“It can be a long road back because players themselves and supporters can start doubting you, and then it can snowball. I’d much prefer to win games like this and take the front door.”
O’Connor’s main injury worry for Sunday’s game is midfielder Bryan Sheehan who picked up a knee injury in the quarterfinal win over Tipperary.
“We will just see how it goes during the week but obviously it’s a concern for us because Bryan is an important player for us,” O’Connor said.
Defender Marc O Se will be fit after a hamstring problem.
BENNY Coulter had to sit out Down’s Ulster SFC 2-10 to 1-8 win over Fermanagh on Sunday, but believes he will have recovered from an ankle injury before the June 24 clash with Monaghan.
“I am hoping for a miracle,” Coulter told the Irish Examiner. “I’m meant to be going back to the surgeon in Belfast on June 16 to get the cast off and see if the ankle is healed but we’re hoping to move it forward a few days.
“I hope to see him at the end of this week and if there is any chance I can get to play in the semifinal, I’ll push for it.
If the physio tells me I’ll do a bit of damage by playing, I’ll play anyway.”
Fermanagh boss Peter Canavan was upset by an early red card for Daryl Keenan in Sunday’s defeat to Down.
“I am bitterly disappointed with that aspect of the game because I don’t think Daryl was even booked during the whole National League,” said Canavan after an umpire spotted an indiscretion.
“He is a very honest footballer and a very clean footballer and he says he was sent off in the wrong, that he didn’t strike. It is hard enough to beat a team of Down’s quality with 15 men, let alone 14.”
OFFALY finally overcame their Wexford hoodoo as Ollie Baker’s side beat their fierce rivals, 2-12 to 1-13, for the first time since 2000 in a Leinster Championship game on Saturday.
“We are desperately proud of our players but we are only after winning a Leinster quarterfinal,” said Baker afterwards.
“For Offaly to beat Wexford, who haven’t been in contention in the last seven years, these Championship days are what you live for.
“It’s brilliant that we are into a Leinster semifinal now. We are playing Galway or Westmeath in two weeks time and we are just delighted that our name is in that draw.
“It’s the championship quality that is never-say-die and you are never thinking of the back-door or the next day.”
DUBLIN boss Anthony Daly was a happy man after his team’s easy win over Laois in the Leinster SHC quarterfinal on Saturday.
“We spoke about the 2nd of June quite a bit during the year and that was the target for all of the injured boys to get themselves ready,” Daly said after a 22 point win.
“There was a good lot of positives, but obviously it wasn’t much of a hard game really. The second half was a bit dead and drab, but we came as ready as we can be and that’s all you can do.
“We are just delighted to be through and have it out of the way. We’ll get back now tonight and get the heads ready for the 23rd of June and that’s the next big test for us.”
GALWAY boss Anthony Cunningham hopes to have his star man Joe Canning back for the Leinster semifinal against Offaly after he sat out Sunday’s win over Westmeath with a shoulder injury. “We knew late on Friday night Joe wouldn’t play; he has improved a good bit but, medically, they were saying not to chance him,” said the Tribesmen manager . . .
LONGFORD forward Brian Kavanagh says his team will enjoy Sunday’s Leinster football replay against Wexford in Tullamore no matter what happens. “It’s our third championship game, it’s the first time I’ve ever played three Leinster championship games in the one year,” he said . . .
SLIGO have injury concerns over star players Eamonn O’Hara and David Kelly ahead of Saturday’s Connacht SFC semifinal against Galway in Salthill. Damien Burke is a doubt for the home side . . .
CAPTAIN Stephen Bray is fit to play for Meath in Sunday’s Leinster SFC quarterfinal against Carlow in Tullamore after his recent knee injury . . .
DONEGAL expect to have Rory Kavanagh fit for the Ulster SFC quarterfinal against Derry on Saturday, June 16.