21 years after great escape, are the Dubs now stuck in a moment they can’t get out of? – Dick Clerkin on relegation threat

It may be hard to believe but the last time Dublin lost three Allianz League games in a row Anthony Hopkins was terrifying cinema audiences as the titular character in Silence of the Lambs follow up Hannibal and U2 were flying high in the charts with Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of.

he date was 10th February 2001 and a team captained by current boss Dessie Farrell was resuming a campaign that had begun the previous October with defeats to Tyrone and Offaly, before a mid-season break had intervened.

It was also the last time the league began before Christmas but the break didn’t help the Dubs when Roscommon came to Parnell Park. Second half red cards for Ciaran Whelan and Jason Sherlock, after Frankie Dolan had already been sent off for the Rossies, handed the initiative to the Connaught side who went on to win by two points on a 0-12 to 0-10 scoreline.

For Roscommon twenty one years ago, read Mayo today with James Horan’s team backing up that All-Ireland semi-final victory that opened the first cracks in Dublin’s armour last August with a comfortable win at Headquarters on Saturday night.

Those cracks have only grown wider over the course of this league campaign with the manner of the defeat, on top of similar listless performances against Armagh and Kerry opening up the real threat that Dublin could be playing their league football in the second tier next season.

And any turnaround needs to happen quickly for Dublin to avoid what could be a real life horror story according to former Monaghan midfielder Dick Clerkin.

“They’ll be still confident that they’ll be able to stave off relegation but they’re in a dogfight,” Clerkin told The Throw-In GAA podcast in association with Allianz.

“There’s no question about it, the pressure’s on. They’re in a place that they’ve never been in, having to fight for survival.

“So how that impacts on their squad and performance, well, I wouldn’t say remains to be seen but it’s not looking good at the minute.

“Because I’d say they were in that sort of mindset going into the Mayo game and it didn’t get them a whole pile further in terms of performance and obviously not in the result.”

To put things in context, at the time of that previous run it was six years since Dublin had won a Leinster, let alone an All-Ireland so comparisons with the current moment Dublin are stuck in aren’t really relevant.

And, to be fair, Tommy Carr’s side had enough about them to dodge the threat of relegation with wins over Donegal and Galway split by a loss to Kerry and a forfeit against Louth due to the foot and mouth outbreak enough to see them finish fifth of eight teams in Division 1A.

And while Clerkin believes there’s enough for Dublin to target in their remaining four games for a similar escape this season but, with the team that succeeded them as All-Ireland champions among those opponents, it won’t be easy.

“It’s certainly not inevitable but they’re in a difficult spot,” Clerkin added.

“They’ll probably be looking at the Kildare game and the last game against Monaghan.

“Five points will probably keep you up this year. I was just looking at the fixtures last night from a Monaghan point of view and trying to see where do you get five or six points.

“Kildare, Donegal, Monaghan and then Tyrone. If Dublin can’t have aspirations to win 3 of those 4 games, they’re in a worse spot than they’re letting on.”

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