Liffey Lions can cross Semple Suir
Former Dub mentor Vincent Teehan says Dubs and Waterford set for Thurles treat in enticing meeting
VINCENT Teehan quenches his thirst with a glass of orange juice in Costa at The Liffey Valley Shopping Centre.
For Dublin against Waterford this Sunday, it's very much a case of swim or sink.
Vincent predicts a Thurles treat. A delicious double-bill. A triple decker if you add in the minors of Limerick and Galway at noon.
Cork and Galway are on at four. The Dubs will throw-in at two. Bring the hang sandwiches, and milk for the tae.
Vincent says the Dublin-Waterford clash crackles with intrigue.
"Both counties are on the cusp of something big here. A game away from the All-Ireland semi-final.
"The two sides have had some good results this season, and some disappointments as well. This is such a vital match."
Sadly, Offaly are a good few spins of the sliotar away from the top. Brian Whelehan's departure further diluted the flavour of the orange juice.
Whelehan - forever a Faithful Favourite.
Offaly native Vincent's own hero was Pat Carroll. He was from his own club, Coolderry. A cousin.
Coolderry was hurling county. Still is. And the Teehan pedigree runs deep.
Vincent's grandfather, 'Red Jack', was the first Offaly man to hurl with Leinster.
Vincent's father, PJ, also hurled with the county, and he was the Chairman of the Offaly County Board.
"Offaly have a long gap to close. The other teams are so far ahead.
"You are looking at a five or six-year project. When you are not successful, it makes it all the harder to make the breakthrough."
Vincent himself won three Leinster titles in succession with Offaly in 1988, '89 and '90.
But a back injury forced him to retire when he was only 25.
"That was a big regret. You would have liked to see how far you could have gone in the game," he reflects.
In his first year with the county in 1988, he was nominated for an All-Star. Losing to Antrim in the All-Ireland semi-final in 1989 carried a sting.
But the Offaly men gave Croke Park one of its most treasured moments when they afforded Antrim a guard of honour going off the pitch.
"We got criticised for that, but we had great respect for Antrim, and the struggles they had in keeping hurling alive up there."
He can still remember Johnny Flaherty's hand of God guiding the ball through Heaven's door for Offaly's first All-Ireland in 1981.
"I was watching from the terraces. I was there for our four All-Ireland final wins, but the first one is always the most special."
He's impressed with Waterford and Derek McGrath.
And Dublin too. "They have good fast hurlers like Crummey (Chris), Barrett (Shane) and Durkin (Shane). They are all terrific at sweeping. And Rushe (Liam) is as good a centre-back as you'd see."
Vincent commends the work of Ger Cunningham.
"Inter-county hurling is tough. It takes time to settle.
"Ger has come in after Anthony Daly's successful spell, and he's dealing with 35 different players and personalities, all wanting to play.
"The management got blamed for what happened in the replay against Galway. But things happen very quickly in hurling. You are going to get days like that. And in fairness, Galway got the goals.
"It's a two or a three-year plan. And bar the All-Ireland semi-final in 2013, this Dublin team has got as far as any Dublin side of the modern era."
Vincent knows all about the heat of the inter-county terrain. He served alongside Dalo.
"They were good days. It was very enjoyable.
"We had good years and then there were the disappointments of being caught by Antrim and Clare when we were in good positions in the matches.
"Belief and winning constantly makes a difference in those situations. Kilkenny wouldn't have lost those leads.
"Kilkenny and Tipperary are a good bit ahead at the moment.
"Then you have the likes of Dublin, Waterford, Galway, Cork and Limerick who are fairly similar.
"People say that Kilkenny don't do all the strength and conditioning, but the players do it themselves.
"Brian Cody is remarkable. He just keeps going. Hurling is everything in Kilkenny.
"Everywhere you go in Kilkenny, there's somebody with a hurley in their hand. They have such a great school system for producing players. They'll always be there or there-abouts."
These days, Vincent is managing the senior hurlers at Lucan Sarsfields. Things are going well.
But he appreciates, from both sides, the clash of club and county.
"I think we need two calendars - one for club and one for county," he states.
But on this coming Sunday in Semple Stadium, like everybody else in the Liffey Valley, he'll be standing firmly under the one big blue umbrella.