herald

Wednesday 29 March 2017

'There's no ideal time to make debut': O'Donnell

Eoghan O'Donnell
Eoghan O'Donnell

Whatever way you do the maths, a handful of hurlers will make their debuts for Dublin this Saturday in Croke Park (5.0) against All-Ireland champions, Tipperary.

It's a risk, doubtless. But also an inevitability in the absence of eight Cuala players and group of others who either left or were dropped after last year.

"I think one of the worst things you can do is over think it," says Eoghan O'Donnell, likely to be flanked by a couple of newbies himself on Saturday evening.

"It's not something you can easily prepare for you are thrown in at the deep end and most of the time you swim.

"Lads have been playing at the highest level most of the time all the way up and this is no different they have got to this age now and there's no reason why they won't be able to do it at this age either."

Without Paul Schutte, Oisín Gough and Cian O'Callaghan, players like Conor Robinson, Cian MacGabhann or Paddy Smyth - a minor last year - could start in defence.

Caolán Conway and/or Fergal Whitely have played themselves into the midfield reckoning on the back of some tasty and prolific Walsh Cup performances while both Cian O'Sullivan and Dónal Burke have thrust themselves into the frame in an attack shorn of Mark Schutte and David Treacy (all Cuala), Paul Ryan (retired), Dotsy O'Callaghan and Eamonn Dillon (both injured).

The early performances of Burke, in particular, have given reasonable cause for optimism.

Pressure

"You can only go on what you have seen so far and he has played very well in the Walsh Cup," O'Donnell, who made his senior debut against Tipperary in Thurles last year, reckons.

"And he's taking the frees which is a lot of pressure but he seems to be dealing with that all right.

"He seems well able for it and he is well able to talk in the dressing room and he seems to be a huge prospect coming through.

"I think," O'Donnell offers, "so you have to give the young lads a chance and they'll either take it with both hands or someone else will be ready to step in and take their place.

"There is never going to be the ideal time for you to make a debut," he adds, "so you just get on with it and you trust the players around you to pull you through."

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