Daly 'mad for road' ahead of Kilkenny
Dubs boss says he notices subtle changes in his players this year
IT'S Monday evening of the week of the Leinster hurling final. The sun is slowly baking north Dublin. Anthony Daly sits in a corporate box in Croke Park, looking down on the pitch where his team will attempt to win a second Bob O'Keeffe Cup on the spin this Sunday, considering the fickleness of management.
Specifically, he's evaluating the Danny Sutcliffe dilemma.
"Do you gamble? Don't you gamble? What do you do?"
If his team are in the sort of form Daly is, they'll be fine..
"I was in Tullamore about an hour and a half before the (Kilkenny/Galway replay) because we knew it was going to be chaotic there and met a couple of friends from Galway on the way up to the Stadium," he recalls of his most recent exposure to the vagaries of someone else's opinions of a hurling team's well-being.
"They were giving out yards about Jonathan Glynn not starting and then, of course, just before the teams broke off and into position, the Galway changes were announced and Glynn was starting.
"As we were trying to make our way back to the car through the crowds, lads were coming up to me saying 'why didn't he keep Glynn up his sleeve like last week?'
"And I was like 'Jesus, welcome to my world guys!'
"Do it and everything is right. Winning … sure you could go down there naked on the line and if you win, they'll all say 'Jaysus, that was some stunt by Daly! All the Kilkenny women were staring at him'.
"Anthony Cunningham waited and waited and sprung him and I was saying 'wait and see what happens here' but it didn't go so good for Johnny on the day.
"And yet you'd say if he could come in then when they got it back after (Joe) Canning had got the sideline and it was back to a goal and Glynn then was appearing, wouldn't that be brilliant?
"But look, Mark Schutte gets injured after two minutes, Paul Ryan comes in and shoots three points from play against Wexford.
"You know what I mean? It's just very easy to be wise after the event," stresses Daly.
Far more difficult to be enlightened during it. Or just beforehand.
In Wexford Park, Daly sprang Stephen Hiney, a man believed to be 'missing in action' since Dublin's opening league match against Galway in Salthill, when most of the panel seemed also to be suffering from a similar affliction.
"We were in Portugal and there were a couple of hard matches in Portugal and he forced his way in, really," Daly reasons. "You couldn't leave him off the way he was hurling. And no other than anyone else, that's the way we try to go out - on form.
"Sometimes you give a lad a bit of trust if he is not going that well, if he has delivered for you in the past.
"But Stephen was playing really well and you wouldn't worry about him. He's mad for road now."
There's a different atmosphere about the place now, Daly notes.
They invested so much time and emotion into winning a Leinster title, it couldn't but have a positive affect on the group when they finally did it last summer.
The Wexford game, three weeks ago, was a case in point.
"I thought that came out in the second half in Wexford, that there was no panicky hurling.
"Sometimes when you are trying to get to the top or get a major title … the league was great ... it was very significant for us.
"But to win Leinster was a far bigger deal and I thought sometimes in other games in other years there was panicky hurling and none more evident than against Antrim here when we were up six points (2010).
"Jesus, when I look back, I plucked up the courage to look back at that once and some of the stuff … like, fellas jumping up on each other's backs for high balls.
"But they did stuff right in Wexford and there was a calmness about me there in the second half.
"I thought 'no, we'll work this out and use the ball and work the scores' and I felt we were never going to lose the match in the second half and that comes off them. I wouldn't be that calm if I could see something different off them."
Clearly, it's for these sort of weekends that Daly lives and thrives.
And just now, there are three Dublin hurling teams in three major Leinster finals (senior, under-21 and minor).
"Looking forward to a double-header with the minors and seniors here (Croke Park) on Sunday and a great day for Dublin hurling hopefully but a great day for hurling in general," Daly stresses.
"The Leinster championship has really taken off now. It's every bit as competitive as Munster.
"We have Galway coming in and Dublin rising up and Wexford definitely and Laois. Offaly are going through a sticky patch and it's a hard championship to win now so I think lads will be dying to get out here."
"It (Croke Park) is a place where you do have to win a lot of individual battles.
"I know tactics do come into it big time and cover for each other and help out.
"But there is a bit more space around the place alright and if you are lacking a yard if can be shown up in a place like this.
"But then a lot of the fellas lacking in yards are like the 'Beckenbauer Theory' and they read it well.
"There was no sign of Mr Tyrell back in the corner lacking yards on Saturday evening.
"Back in the corner and out in front nearly all the time.
"So good players see the win - back the other end launching the clearance.
"But our lads seem to be jumping out of their skin and mad to get out there and why wouldn't they be?," Daly adds.
"The weather we are having and the way it will be the weekend.
"Fellas who have a problem trying to get themselves up to defend a Leinster title against Kilkenny here, will be under pressure."