Thursday 27 October 2016

'It was hard to look in the mirror'

Plunkett cherishing his Dublin rebirth

Daire Plunkett in action for Dublin against Galway Photo: Sportsfile
Daire Plunkett in action for Dublin against Galway Photo: Sportsfile

Daire Plunkett recalls how "it was hard to look in the mirror on Sunday and Monday," of last week, the days-after-the-Tipperary-disaster-before.

"You were going into work and people looking at you (thinking) 'what was that?'

"And we were saying 'what was that?' as well."

So Dublin did the obligatory GAA team 'brutally honest' meeting and resolved to be better against Galway in Parnell Park a week on.

The tangible sense of relief in the traffic around the Dublin dressing-room on Saturday night suggested, perhaps, that no-one was quite sure in advance what form they would take.


But Plunkett, a late addition to the team on the night, says he never doubted.

"No. We know what we have. We know what's here, in this group.

"You'd have doubts as to why it wasn't there last week. But no. You'd never doubt the lads we have in that dressing-room."

But a lot of other people did and with some justification.

So bad were Dublin in Thurles, it was hard to reconcile that they were the same players in the same shirts as they dominating Galway across the performance spectrum.

Hurling, physicality, game plan - Dublin were a team reborn, resurrected, rebooted.

The diagnosis, as often tends to be the case with such an underperformance as the Tipp one, was quite simple, at least in Plunkett's eyes.

"Our work rate wasn't anything near what it needed to be. Our use of the ball was very sloppy," he outlined.

"We just didn't work hard enough and when we don't have that work rate, we're a very average team.

"When we do have it, we're up there with anybody."

"Maybe we had a bit of a false sense of security from the Walsh Cup, a false confidence," he suggests.

"Realistically, we weren't challenged as much as we were last week in Semple Stadium.

"And when we're a bit off, it's just not there for us so we have to bring that every day."

"When you're winning you're one-on-one battle, when you have a collision with a man, you have to win it."

Then there's the Parnell Park factor.

It will be six years since Dublin lost a League or Championship match there by the time anyone has a chance to end that run and whatever it is about the place, particularly on those atmospheric nights like last Saturday's, the county hurlers are visibly comfortable in its confines.

There were two ways of looking at this on Saturday night.

Firstly, the obvious angle; Dublin should try and play more often in Donnycarney.

The other, more all-encompassing view was that none of the trophies Dublin chase; League, Leinster and All-Ireland, will be handed over in Parnell Park.

Plunkett had a more developed opinion.

"We do love playing here," he admitted, "but if you asked me where I'd most like to play, I'd say Croke Park every day of the week."

"That's the best pitch in the country. Why wouldn't you want to play there?"


Or why, in Plunkett's case, would you not enjoy playing anywhere for Dublin?

In December 2012, he - along with Peadar Carton, Conor Clinton and Shane Stapleton - were informed by letter from the then Dublin management that they were dropped.


Last year, Plunkett's road-runner pace made him an obvious choice for Ger Cunningham to take a look.

He admits now to being "very disappointed not to have been involved,"

"I'm 26 now and looking at another four or five years now and that's it.

"Some of my best friends are gone now. It can be very ruthless at times," he adds, speaking from experience.

"I was on the outside of it. Now that I'm back, I'm just cherishing it. I'm really enjoying it."

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