Liam Rushe: Losing to Galway is not an option
Dubs star insists qualifiers present a far trickier path back to salvaging season
JUST in case Dublin needed another reminder of the night/day comparison between the consequences of beating or losing to Galway in Croke Park on Sunday, Clare's presence as a potential first round qualifier opponent served as just that.
Which gives credence to Liam Rushe's suggestion that Dublin's looming Leinster quarter-final now representas a "win at all costs" fixture for his team.
"It really is the luck of the draw," says the Dublin co-captain.
"You could be pulled out against a seriously strong team in your first game and you could have a serious Championship contender out.
"The hurling qualifiers are nearly becoming as bad as the football," he reasons.
"Especially when you see the runs that some teams get on, like Clare in 2013 and Wexford last year.
"You don't want to come up against a team that has had a couple of games. Especially when you're on a downer.
"So there probably is that extra incentive to win now.
"With the way that the Munster Championship is drawn," Rushe adds, "there are going to be some big teams going out early into the qualifiers."
Rushe attaches no real significance to Dublin's Division 1A win over Galway in the team's last meeting in March, a match that Ger Cunningham's team needed to - and did - win to ensure they avoided a relegation play-off.
"There was the usual shadow boxing when we played them in the League," he recalls.
"They were home and dry and they were just trying to throw a spanner in the works.
"Aside from that, I haven't seen them since Waterford last year. Waterford kind of surprised everyone. They came out and ambushed Galway down there. It's a difficult style to play against.
"It's very hard to know how things are going when you haven't seen much of them.
"But they have Joe Canning and plenty of other fire power around them. Johnny Glynn is going really well and they have a lot of household names. So we know what to expect at this stage."
Rushe is most likely to play at centre-forward on Sunday, three years after his last Championship appearance for Dublin in attack and as yet, he's not quite sure whether his relocation is a permanent arrangement.
Having cut a visibly frustrated and mostly peripheral figure at full-forward in the early stages of Ger Cunningham's reign (albeit one that scored three goals in four early-season games) Mark Schutte's compelling and prolific subsequent form makes him a certain start at number 14, with Rushe enjoying his best match of 2015 leading the Dublin attack at centre-forward in the League semi-final loss to Cork.
The Palmerstown hurler reckons he was "like a fish out of water at the start," adding: "I'm definitely more comfortable in the half-forward line.
"The full-forward line is an awkward position to play," he continues.
"You have to be so patient and so economical with the ball you get or you'll be getting the fishing rod early on.
"You have to be mentally strong because if you lose a ball you mighn't see it for six or seven minutes.
"You can easily dwell on that ball you lost and you have to keep telling yourself you are going to win the next one," concluded Rushe.