Corcoran looking for Blues to deliver against Déise and spark bid to save top-flight status
NIALL CORCORAN insists there will be no 'shadow boxing' from the men in Sky Blue when the Dublin hurlers conclude their regulation Division 1A programme against relegation rivals Waterford this Sunday.
The Déise have it all to play for in Dungarvan, their shock victory in Galway having opened up an unlikely escape route from the top-flight's relegation play-off final on April 18.
Dublin are already destined for that play-off, having garnered just one point from their opening four Allianz League games, but Corcoran says that won't alter their mindset this weekend.
"We'll be looking to win," he promised, while accepting that victory won't do them "much good" in terms of escaping their play-off fate. "Maybe Anthony (Daly) might try a couple of lads as well, but we'll be looking to perform and that will be the key for us."
He fully expects that both teams will go for it on Sunday. "Without a doubt," he said. "I think the more games we start to win now, the better, looking towards championship. We have certainly come out the wrong end of a few results, so hopefully we can pick up where we left off in that Tipperary game."
The Galway native is referring to last Saturday's dramatic deadlock in Croke Park. Three minutes of allotted injury-time were virtually up, with Dublin desperately craving a goal to prevent their barren streak stretching to four straight defeats.
"It was frustrating," Corcoran recalled, "because I thought that we'd dominated the game for the most part."
Enter Liam Rushe and his magnetic 'paw'.
"I just remember getting the ball, and I had two choices - get it up the field or pass it to Joey Boland. I took the latter option; fair play to Joey, he picked out Rushey and we got that goal. Three points down in injury-time, you're looking at, 'Here we go again'... fair play to the boys, they never gave up."
The table might suggest otherwise, but he sees this quality as a recurring theme of 2012: that "no matter what happens, we're going to keep hurling 'til the end. If we can do that, then anything is possible."
Besides, he reckons negative results have masked a multitude of positives. After a deflating day-one display against his native county, Dublin have produced three big performances on the spin - against Cork, Kilkenny and Tipp.
The points return has been negligible, but Corcoran insisted: "The feeling within the squad is we're in a good place, looking towards the championship.
"Obviously staying in Division 1A is very, very important - you're looking towards next year and you need these competitive games, getting big games against Cork, Kilkenny, Galway, Tipp and Waterford next weekend.
"These games bring you on, so it's hugely important for us that we do stay in Division 1A next year."
And the alternative? "If we don't, we don't," the corner-back mused. "We're going to focus on how we perform against Waterford."
The other "huge positive" has stemmed from a negative - Dublin's seemingly eternal injury problems. Danny Sutcliffe has caught fire at wing-forward; Paul Schutte has progressed with more game-time in the full-back line; while Eamon Dillon scored a brilliant goal off the bench against Kilkenny and was rewarded with a first league start against Tipp.
Dublin's most recent injuries, to Paul Ryan and Conor McCormack, have given others a chance to "show their worth from the start - that's what they've done. And looking forward to the summer, you need a strong panel. I think we have that now."
Last word on Waterford. Given their traumatic league start, not to mention management team turbulence, was Corcoran surprised by the Déise's victory over his home county, Galway?
"Not really," he demurred. "Waterford had to welcome back Eoin Kelly and they had John Mullane, and then you look at Ken McGrath coming in to join the backroom team.
"I think they probably had a lot to prove, and Waterford don't become a bad team overnight ... I was reading that they had a players' meeting last week, and they probably aired a few things and got a few things cleared up.
"That's Waterford for you - they are always going to come out fighting. I wasn't really surprised at the result at all. It's going to be a tough game for us."