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Saturday 19 August 2017

Ger Cunningham: I want to raise the bar

Rebel legend has current footballers on radar

GER CUNNINGHAM
GER CUNNINGHAM

NEW Dublin hurling manager Ger Cunningham has hailed the history-making input of his predecessor, Anthony Daly - and now he hopes to "raise the bar" even further.

In his first interview since being ratified for a three-year term by the Dublin county board on Wednesday night, the Leeside legend revealed: "The main demand and the challenge that I see is to try and follow on the work that Anthony has done, and try to raise the bar a bit if I can.

"If you look at the provinces now, there are no easy scenarios. In Leinster, we have the All-Ireland champions Kilkenny plus four or five of the hurling's other top teams. It's extremely competitive but that's the nature of the business."

AMBITIONS

The former Cork goalkeeper and coach - a current sports ambassador for Bord Gáis Energy - will make his first live TV appearance as Dublin manager at tomorrow night's U-21 hurling team of the year awards on TG4 (8.30pm).

"Looking at it from the outside," he reflected, "Dublin would have had ambitions to try and improve on where they got to in 2013, when they won the Leinster championship, got to an All-Ireland semi-final and within a puck of a ball of the final.

"When that didn't happen, there was a certain amount of regret and it just shows where the standards have gone.

"Anthony has done such a great job that even getting to a Leinster final and All-Ireland quarter-final was looked on as a disappointing year. In the past, that would have been a great year for Dublin and that's an indication of how well Anthony did."

In assembling his squad, Cunningham insisted that age is irrelevant. His door will also be open to any player making himself available - including dual stars who have previously committed to football instead.

Cunnningham, 53, said: "My job is to put the best squad of players together to represent the Dublin senior hurling team. In that regard, the door is open for any player who wishes to commit to the cause. Any player currently playing football but feels that he wants to put his hand up for the Dublin hurlers will obviously be considered.

"I am fully aware that there are a number of talented dual players in the county and that is a reflection of Dublin's current strength in both codes."

He went on: "Age is irrelevant to me when it comes to finalising a panel for the New Year. It doesn't matter whether a player is 17 or 37 - if my selectors and me believe that he has something to contribute and something to offer to the squad, we will base my judgements around that.

"We will obviously be taking in the concluding stages of the club championships in Dublin and the Dub Stars in the New Year will also give players to put their hands up and stake a place for inclusion."

SPECULATE

Cunningham said it was "still a little early" to speculate on the make-up of his management team, adding: "I have just been confirmed in the post myself and the process of formulating a backroom team is ongoing."

Cunningham is hoping Dublin can now benefit from the experience he gained working alongside managers Donal O'Grady, John Allen and Jimmy Barry-Murphy in Cork.

The three-time All-Ireland winning 'keeper is also confident that he can successfully combine a busy work life with his new role. "I do some work in Dublin anyway. Part of my day-to-day job involves going to Dublin at different times over weeks and months. That ties in nicely with that," he said.

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