Danny Sutcliffe catches puck-outs for fun as Kenny's plan comes good
Dublin 3-31 Antrim 0-22
If a team is to build with their back-line and then to kill with their half-forward line, then Mattie Kenny has all the ammunition he needs in Dublin.
It's hard to underestimate just how important it is for the Dubs, to have Liam Rushe back fit, fast and thriving, back where he belongs at centre back. There have been jokey and ill-fated stints in the forwards but Rushe is a back-man and he is a lynch-pin. It might seem like he has been around forever but the powerhouse is still just 31 years of age and as Dublin hurled Antrim out of it in this Leinster Championship opener in Páirc Tailteann, it was Rushe, who like glue to a page, held the whole thing together.
Sean Moran, with all his power, pace and dynamism, is like Rushe's second coming so it was disappointing when he was a late drop-out off the starting 15 but James Madden stepped in and he stepped up at right wing back. On the other side, Daire Gray has been showing well all year.
So too have Antrim but today was the day they discovered that the League is the League, that you'd be unwise to get carried away with the pre-season shenanigans. Quiet confidence turned to a rude awakening for the northerners as their leading lights like Keelan Molloy and James McNaughton were dimmed by the speed and hunger of Rian McBride, the guile and craft of his St Vincent's club-man Conor Burke.
Dublin 3-31 Antrim 0-22 full-time.
Ronan Hayes, Danny Sutcliffe and Liam Rushe impressive as Dublin hit the ground running in the 2021 Championship 🔵 pic.twitter.com/wnDvswvTsm
— GAA JOE (@GAA__JOE) June 26, 2021
If Rushe, Madden and Gray laid the foundations then it was Danny Sutcliffe, Donal Burke and Chris Crummey who finished the job. Danny Sutcliffe was once the underage sensation who out-hurled Tommy Walsh and now he's the captain, he's the leader and he's the man who soared into the Navan sky to catch no fewer than clean five puck-outs on Saturday. Possession is nine tenths of the law and it's such an asset for Dublin to have a man like Sutcliffe, who fights tooth and nail no matter what way the ball arrives.
It was notable in the first half that even when he found himself on the wrong side of catching, he'd find a way by sticking his less favoured but just as effective right hand up to win possession. They say short puck-outs are the way forward but why would you mess around when the St Jude's man can win it in one clean grab.
It will have have given Mattie Kenny some quiet satisfaction to have seen Chris Crummey score 0-3 from play in his best display in the half forward line to date. Kenny has been criticised for bringing Crummey up the field but just like Sutcliffe, he's one helluva target for Alan Nolan in the goals. Donal Burke did what Donal Burke does in running up a cricket score and with Ronan Hayes, in particular, looking sharp and dangerous in the full forward line, Galway were reminded as if they needed another reminder, that Dublin will be no push-overs in the Leinster semi-final.