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Tuesday 24 October 2017

Upbeat Alan banishes away day blues as he enters the Tipp cauldron

TIPP in their own backyard. Tipp with what promises to be a huge vocal following in their self-styled Home of Hurling. A reason for Dublin to recoil in horror? Think again.

Alan Nolan prefers to accentuate the positives when it comes to Sunday's All-Ireland SHC quarter-final.

Asked if he had any issue with Thurles as the venue, the Sky Blues netminder instantly replies: "No, none whatsoever. If someone was to tell you 'You're going to be playing in Semple Stadium against Tipperary in an All-Ireland quarter-final' ... it's an amazing feeling, an amazing fixture, and you could have no complaints.

"It's a serious field, a serious venue, so you can only embrace it."

Dublin footballers are well accustomed to complaints about the 'Croke Park factor' and the venue advantage they routinely enjoy; now the Sky Blue hurlers find themselves on the other side of that argument. Yet Nolan is nonplussed on whether familiarity will breed content for Tipperary.

"Well, it depends. Like, they play there regularly, I suppose - but we've played there," he points out.

"We've won there - sometimes. So we're just going down and if you're worrying about venues, your head's not on the job in hand.

Performance

"We're looking forward to going down there and we're looking at ourselves to try, and bring out a performance."

Nolan has relatively recent personal experience of Semple Stadium - he started last year's league semi-final when an anaemic Dublin display culminated in a 4-20 to 0-17 defeat, Nolan's own day of woe compounded by a late gaffe for Tipp's final goal in stoppage-time.

However, he doesn't believe that defeat led to his demotion as Gary Maguire was recalled for last year's history-making Leinster campaign.

As for Dublin's latest collective no-show, against Kilkenny in the Leinster final, Nolan found himself in the weird position of being named Man of the Match on a heavily beaten team.

While Nolan could console himself with that personal "positive", he stresses: "I'm part of a team so that's the thing that matters."

The biggest disappointment? "Just, a Leinster final and not turning up. We really didn't. We were flat; I don't know why," he says.

"But we're delighted we've another chance now.

"We're heading to Thurles with our backs to the wall, and we can only come out fighting.

"And if we don't, our season is over."

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