Splitting the posts: Why always Ryan?
11:10, 19 Apr 2012
Image by Timothy O'Connell
Ryan O'Dwyer has consistently performed well for Dublin but after his third red card in blue, a question must be asked: is the juice worth the squeeze?
Anthony Daly has put a lot of faith in Ryan O’Dwyer since the Cashel man transferred to Dublin at the start of 2011. In general terms, the now Kilmacud Crokes man has delivered for the capital county.
But after a third red card in little over a year in blue, there are surely some signs of erosion in the player-manager relationship. Because while O’Dwyer has consistently performed well for his new county - man of the match in the league final win and hat-trick hero in the All Ireland quarter final in 2011 - there has been collateral damage.
On Sunday last, the centre-forward was sent off just as extra time commenced against Galway. O’Dwyer had been replaced by David Treacy with 22 minutes of normal time remaining and it was evident, particularly after Liam Rushe was sent on firefighting duty in the half-back line, that Dublin would need more traction up the field in extra time. And so he was brought back on at midfield.
O’Dwyer seemed an obvious solution but after an altercation, he was dismissed. He will now miss both the replay and Dublin’s first championship outing against either Laois or Carlow - as his ban was doubled to two games for a second dismissal inside 48 weeks.
Daly’s side may have gotten out of jail due to Galway’s inability to finish off a lame animal - Alan McCrabbe’s red card putting Dublin down to 13 men - and the fight shown by the outgoing league champions but it is happening a little too frequently.
As with Mario Balotelli at Manchester City, collateral damage always seems just a couple of stops down the line. The Italian’s already iconic ‘Why always me?’ slogan unveiled at Old Trafford tallies with the Kilmacud man’s protestations every time he is sent to the line. Arms out and head to the clouds - ‘you must be joking.’
Whether O’Dwyer is a marked man among referees or not is up for debate (for the record, we don’t believe so), but he has stepped the wrong side of aggression’s fine line too often. The question is whether Dublin’s hurling public will keep faith in their Tipperary import.
The red card against Kilkenny eventually took its toll at Nowlan Park as the Cats’ unrelenting pressure had no release valve amidst Dublin’s outnumbered attackers. As we said earlier, Dublin got out of jail in Tullamore on Sunday and again at the same venue last year when the sides played in the Leinster championship: O’Dwyer being sent off in the final quarter, allowing an underperforming Tribe County launch a late comeback attempt.
Should the repeat offender cost Dublin a match of magnitude - a Leinster final, for example - because of an indiscretion, the knives will be out. A new ruling has stipulated that any inter-county player transfer must play for his new club for a season before he can line out for the county. O’Dwyer escaped this and cynics might point out that he has played far more times for Dublin than Kilmacud Crokes.
For a disgruntled Dublin fan who might feel there are plenty of hurlers good enough already in the county, it is a stick to beat the Cashel man with if he does not deliver.
To again reference soccer, there is a contrast to be made with Wayne Rooney about whom it is so often claimed needs his aggression to be effective. O’Dwyer fits that bill but unlike the Manchester United man, he has not got eight years of blind loyalty supporting him in 40-plus games per year. Nor has the Dublin forward necklaced together the top trophies, making himself truly indispensible to the cause.
He is a fine, effective player but Rushe and Conal Keaney command far more favour among the Dublin following - hometown favourites always will. No doubt, O’Dwyer will continue to tread that fine line between success and disaster. The question is how far that line will travel.
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @eircomSportsHub