Monday 24 October 2016

"I would love to play Cork again. It would be great to get one over them"

The Dublin hurlers are hunting All-Ireland success, writes Mark Corcoran

"Overall it was a positive experience," says Johnny McCaffrey of Dublin's hurling League campaign. "We had a lot of good wins. And the defeats to Cork and Clare were good games."

Dublin's hopes of making it to a League final were dashed by Cork in spectacular fashion at the semi-final stage. The Rebels somehow came from 12 points down to topple the Boys in Blue.

It wasn't long before the negatives were put behind them. Why focus on the down side when so many positives are there for all to see?

"We have put it to bed. We have learned from the mistakes that we made, particularly towards the end of the game. But there were a lot of positives to take out of it. Our scoring consistency was good in the first half and we created a lot of good chances in the second half and played some very good hurling. You try to take the positives out of it and move on."

Cork defeated Dublin twice during the league. Rather than fearing the men from the south, the Lucan Sarsfields clubman is hoping that the two teams will meet again at some stage during the summer.

"I would love to play Cork again. It would be great to get one over them. They have beaten us in the League and also in the 2013 All-Ireland semi-final. I want to put right the wrongs that happened in those games."


And who better to help the Dubs overcome the Rebels then new manager Ger Cunningham - a Cork native. McCaffrey says that, while it is still relatively early days in the lifecycle of this management team, things are progressing nicely so far.

"A lot of progress has been made over the last six years with Anthony Daly. We are trying to build on that now and get to the next level.

"Ger brings in a new voice and a freshness to the team. He has introduced younger lads on to the panel. There are places in the team that are up for grabs. Competition for places can only be a good thing. It drives lads on. Everyone is looking to impress and put their best foot forward."

Dublin claimed some big wins during the League - including beating Kilkenny in Nowlan Park. The race for Liam McCarthy in 2015 will be a very open one with many teams feeling they have a realistic chance of claiming glory in September. But can Dublin make the breakthrough in 2015?

"All you can do is prepare well and try to put your best foot forward. Sometimes it comes down to a bit of luck on the day. You need to stay clear of injuries too so that you can pick your best team. Small details make a big difference.

"We feel very positive about it. There are a lot of teams who will feel they have a great chance of winning it. That's everyone's goal. There are a lot of good teams there that on a given day can beat any other team. That will make for a very interesting Championship."

McCaffrey has had quite a distinguished career with the Boys in Blue, having first joined the senior panel in 2006. In 2011 he captained Dublin to win their first League title in 72 years. Two years later he collected the Bob O'Keeffe trophy as Dublin beat Galway in the Leinster final.

"Walking up the steps of the Hogan Stand as captain was unreal. It is something that you dream about when you are growing up. They are great memories that I have and they definitely do push me on. When you know what it is like to win you want to win again. This team knows what it is like to win big games and we want more."


First up for Dublin is another tricky encounter with the Tribesmen, this time in a Leinster quarter-final. Win this one and the team could be set for a summer to remember.

"It is great to start the Championship with a big game like this. If you win you are going into the later stages of the Leinster Championship knowing that you have beaten a top team. It breeds confidence. A win would set us up for the summer."

Dublin defeated Galway in Round 5 of the League in March. McCaffrey says that victory will have little impact on this game.

"Beating them during the League gives us a bit of confidence going into the game. But at the end of the day it is a few months since we have played them. We know Galway will have improved since then. We hope that we have too. It will be a very close game. It's all about who turns up on the day and performs the best.

"Preparations in training are going well. We are looking forward to the game."

Roll on May 31st.

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