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Cunningham pinpoints second-half slump that cost Dublin a shot at the All-Ireland semis

First campaign was “an up and down season,” says Dubs boss.

Down and out: Chris Crummey clashes with Shane Bennett as Dublin crash out of the championship.
Down and out: Chris Crummey clashes with Shane Bennett as Dublin crash out of the championship.
Image: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

DUBLIN’S SLOW START to the second half cost them dearly against Waterford, manager Ger Cunningham said.

The Dubs led by a point at half-time in Semple Stadium but collapsed as the Munster men blitzed them by 1-7 to 0-2 points in the third quarter.

A 37th-minute goal from teenager Shane Bennett sparked the decisive run which saw the Déise set up an All-Ireland semi-final against Kilkenny.

“I think that crucial period turned the game against us,” said Cunningham after the five-point loss.

“We were right in the game, I thought. We played some good stuff.

“I thought some of the frees in the first half were dubious enough, to be honest.

“But we were there, and I suppose the goal early in the second half had a big influence on the game.

“Waterford drove on from there, went back to their sweeper system, and looked very comfortable.

But in fairness to our guys they never gave up, and they showed great heart and they fought till the end.

Mark Schutte’s goal helped Dublin to close the gap to four points before Maurice Shanahan struck to dash any hopes of a comeback.

Their afternoon went from bad to worse in the dying minutes when Liam Rushe struck Shanahan in the face with his hurl and was sent off.

rushe

“I didn’t talk to him (yet),” Cunningham said.

“It’s very frustrating when you’re going to make a run and there’s hurleys being pulled and you’re stopped from making your runs.

“Obviously Liam reacted and he got shown a red card. Unfortunately it’s always the guy who reacts that gets picked up for special measure here.

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“(He was) obviously frustrated, maybe, but again I’d have to have another look at it.”

Cunningham admitted that his first campaign in charge was “an up and down season.”

“The replay in Tullamore was a setback, was disappointing, because it put us out of Leinster where we had hoped to do well.

But I think we rebounded well.

“We went down to Laois and got a good result, beat Limerick here, and came within a couple of points of getting to an All-Ireland semi-final.”

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Niall Kelly

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