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Wednesday 23 August 2017

Crokes' win should help refresh Dublin

Experienced Kilmacud poised for crack at Leinster title

crokes
crokes

THERE'S a passage in Anthony Daly's soon-to-released autobiography, Dalo, in which he puts a few things straight about the Dublin hurling revolution.

"If you look at the Dublin panel, the squad is packed with players from just four clubs - Ballyboden St Enda's, Kilmacud Crokes, Lucan Sarsfields and Cuala," Daly writes.

"Apart from Dotsy (O'Callaghan), there is nobody else from Tallaght. We have nobody from Finglas, no-one from north of Craobh Chiaráin - which is another massive population area. If you take just Tallaght and Finglas alone - just two areas of Dublin - that's one senior hurler out of around 120,000 people.

"If Dublin really want to start reaching All-Ireland hurling finals and winning them, they have to start finding players from those hurling wastelands.

REVIVAL

"There also has to be a revival in some of the traditional hurling clubs which have fallen on hard times.

"Everyone talks about the huge money which has been pumped into Dublin hurling. There is great coaching going on but, outside of certain clubs, where is it really developing?"

It's true.

Of all the 'elite' hurling counties, Dublin are probably the one with the shallowest pond from which to fish inter-county grade talent.

Which is another perspective from which to view the consistency of the composition of the senior team during Daly's tenure.

Strangley, the rising tide of capital hurling has left the club scene only just buoyant.

As Liam Rushe said recently (and wryly): "I really enjoyed Donal Óg banging during the year about how we need new forwards; clean sweep and find new players.

"I was kind of looking going, 'What new players could he possibly be talking about'?"

For all of that, Ger Cunningham can't have watched the county final last Friday night in Parnell Park without noticing the passion and skill with which Ross O'Carroll went about his job. His contributions were cutting and utterly vital, too.

On 50 minutes, with Jude's edging away three points in front through the two-pronged scoring threat of Danny Sutcliffe's all-round excellence and Fionn Ó Riain Broin's frees, O'Carroll swept a goal.

Then, in extra-time, with Jude's more than a little sore from losing a two-point injury time lead in their first county final, he caught a puckout, surged into space and put Seánie McGrath in for the goal that would effective seal Crokes second county title in three years; their sixth in all.

"To be honest, I'd love to see him back," says Crokes team-mate, Niall Corcoran, one of the elder members of the current Dublin panel. "And I'd hope to."

Because O'Carroll's is an inter-county force for which Daly must pine.

He played just one year under the Clareman before treading the road well trodden; from hurling to football, in 2010.

Yet a single start in a league game against Monaghan was the sum total of his on-field activity.

His stint was stunted, so to speak, by chronic back injury, a sciatic nerve, which spawned all kinds of hamstring and leg niggles.

He rejoined Daly's squad in 2012 and immediately resumed where he had concluded - the injury continued to nag and he disappeared from view.

"This year, he's managed himself well with his training schedule between the football and the hurling," Corcoran explains.

"I think in fairness to Ollie (Baker) and to Conor Deegan, they've managed him very well. He hasn't been over-trained.

"And as a result, certainly from the hurlers' point of view, he's been outstanding for us all year.

"He's been a great driving force. I'd love to see him back on the Dublin stage for the hurlers. I think it would be huge for us."

If there is a club from which Cunningham can draw a couple of 'undiscovered gems', it's probably Crokes.

The likes of Cian Mac Gabhann, Caolan Conway, Seánie McGrath and Oisín O'Rorke should get a decent look. Dillon Mulligan, meanwhile, was the Dublin Bus/Herald Hurler of the Year last time they won the title in 2012.

And Cunningham will get the chance, if he so wishes, to have another look on Sunday in Parnell Park when they begin their Leinster club SHC against Rathdowney/Errill.

"Just chatting to some of the lads, when Ger starts things going again, it's like you're on trial again nearly," says Corcoran.

"A bit like when Anthony came in first. Everyone was looking to impress and it will be no different this time with Ger. Everything's up for grabs.

"And that includes new lads coming into the panel. Obviously, it's a clean slate again. The excitement that's there ... there is a chance for guys to stake a claim.

"And the more guys that push, the better it's going to be for the team. The fact that everyone is pushing standards.

"But there is a bit of a feeling of a new dawn.

"And the likes of Ross and Ryan (O'Dwyer). Look at the way Ross played, to win that ball ... and then Seánie McGrath, to win that ball and make that pass, they're guys with loads of experience playing against big crowds and against good teams."

Naturally, the further they last, the better for Dublin.

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