GAA Expert & Columnist
Dublin do not instil the same fear in opposition as top teams, says Jamesie O'Connor
Watch Dublin vs Laois live on Sky Sports Mix from 5pm Saturday
Last Updated: 20/10/20 6:47pm
Jamesie O'Connor looks ahead to the weekend's hurling championship ties, as Dublin face Laois and Clare take on Limerick.
Dublin are out for revenge after last year's shock defeat to the O'Moore County, wanting to atone for what has to have been a bitter pill to swallow.
Mattie Kenny's side had fought tooth and nail to qualify from Leinster, and thought they had a massive game with Tipperary coming down the tracks. But they failed to reach the same pitch in Portlaoise as they had one week earlier in Parnell Park against Galway.
It was a real setback for Dublin, but it's not the first time it has happened to the men from the capital. In 2010, they were ambushed by Antrim, seven days after a 13-point win over Clare.
It happens; where you have great work done, you feel like you have great momentum built, and then suddenly you run into a trap where for whatever reason, you're just not at the same levels and you pay the price.
That's been a real issue for Dublin in recent years. The opposition simply don't have the same fear that they might have playing Galway or Tipperary or Kilkenny. For the likes of Laois and Antrim, the fear factor is not there playing Dublin.
Can Laois back it up?
Eddie Brennan's side certainly had no inhibitions last summer, and were clearly up for it.
They won't have the element of surprise this year, but they know now that they can go toe-to-toe with Dublin. I don't think we're going to see a whole lot different from Laois; they obviously have to bring the same intensity and physicality they brought. That might sound cliched, but they have to match Dublin in those areas.
It's about doing what they did well last year. They will have the sweeper back. Mark Kavanagh will need to take the opportunities. Cha Dwyer started at the middle of the field, before he went inside. Willie Dunphy did well too.
It will be a similar game-plan to what worked so well for them. So I don't expect to see anything different from Laois.
One thing worth noting, we're seeing unusual results across the board in sports.
Take the Premier League for example. Liverpool lost 7-2 and Manchester United were beaten 6-1 on the same day.
On Sunday, the Mayo footballers had 2-17 on the board at half-time against Galway.
It is a different kind of season.
Nobody fully knows where these teams are at. You are hearing stories of counties picking up injuries because maybe they are trying to up the training load.
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Do Dublin need more firepower?
Whispers coming out of Dublin are that Chris Crummey could play in the forwards, as could Seán Moran to give them more of a cutting edge up front.
Crummey has been absolutely outstanding for Dublin over the last couple of years. He has been dominant under the opposition puckout, and very much a launchpad in the half-back line.
Moran has been very solid, a good distributor of the ball. But he was up front for Cuala during the club campaign, scoring 2-3 in the county final. I understand why Kenny would want to say 'let's see if we can do something different, get a bit more firepower.'
To win matches at the highest level, you need to be approaching the 30-point mark. And Dublin don't have the same cutting edge up front that the other top teams do. They don't have a figure like Seamus Callanan, TJ Reid or Aaron Gillane that is capable of winning the match for you. So it has to be a greater collective effort from the Dublin forwards. That's really what I'm interested to see - how do they go about breaking Laois down?
They have athletic players. You would imagine in Croke Park that they may be able to find a bit more space than they found in O'Moore Park.
But they have to prove that if Laois are as solid defensively as they were 12 months ago, they can find a way to break them down, after they clearly struggled to do so in the same fixture last year.
Limerick hold edge in meeting of Munster rivals
Clare are missing some big names for Sunday's Munster Championship opener; Colm Galvin, Podge Collins, John Conlon and Peter Duggan will all be absent. Two of them were All-Stars in 2018. They are massive losses, and without them do the Banner have enough ball-winners?
There is an opportunity for Brian Lohan's side, in that Mike Casey and Richie English are both likely missing for Limerick. It is perhaps one area of the field where John Kiely does not have sufficient cover.
Clare will look to exploit that with Shane O'Donnell and Aron Shanagher on the inside forward line, but can they get the right ball in there to expose a potential weakness?
I just can't see Clare overcoming the setback of those absentees. The word is not good in terms of their form at the moment, and how their challenge matches have gone. I can't see beyond a Limerick win.
Of course, Sunday's meeting in Thurles doubles up as the National League final. For me, that is irrelevant; the two teams aren't looking at it that way.
This is the Munster Championship. A league title will not be in the players' minds on Sunday. It will be an added bonus for the winners, but nothing more.