Friday 14 December 2018

Blues' bells chime happy sound

Hurling boss Cunningham happy with run-out as he puts the word out - Dubs are looking at players

Dublin’s Canice Maher tries to close off possession from Niall Corcoran of the Dubs Stars
Dublin’s Canice Maher tries to close off possession from Niall Corcoran of the Dubs Stars

Ger Ryan was on the scoreboard at Parnell Park yesterday. He knows the place well.

Many times he kept goal there for the Dubs and the Craobh.

And as he looked down from the pigeon's nest, he could see a familiar figure playing between the sticks for the Dubs Stars.

It was Brendan McLoughlin, who has collected more Stars caps than most.

After the game, many people were shaking Brendan's hand. He had enjoyed the day, and so did everybody else.

The Dublin Bus/Herald Dubs Stars production proved the perfect New Year tonic.

The Dublin County Board Chairman, Seán Shanley, of host club Craobh Chiaráin, had ordered good weather. And the Met Office obliged.

The sun shone into the stand. Many in the audience shielded their eyes with the match programme.


Francis Byrne was on the PA. He did a splendid job. Every sub was noted and called out. Jerry Grogan would have applauded.

Down in the corridor, Ciarán Hetherton was busy. All the Chiaráin folk were.

In the programme, young Craobh player, Conor Newton, had some advice for Ger Cunningham in the January window - sign Joe Canning!

Conor's favourite hurlers are Liam Rushe and Robbie Mahon. Robbie was on duty here.

So was young Jonny McGuirk, the son of another Craobh legend, Jonny senior, who is now part of the Dublin senior management.

Liam Walsh is also a leading lieutenant. He was a top hurler himself. After the match, he came out of the dressing-room with a bottle of water and a banana. Old habits are best.

The Cuala contingent weren't present as they prepare for their All-Ireland semi-final. The Dublin manager has joined their fan club.

"We are all supporting Cuala in their efforts to win the All-Ireland Championship," said Ger outside the clubhouse.

He'll be back in town on Wednesday night for Dublin's Walsh Cup clash against Carlow at Parnell Park (7.30).

Cunningham added: "We have three competitive games coming up in the Walsh Cup against Carlow, UCD and Wexford. We won't have the Cuala and colleges lads, and, overall, we'll be missing about 20 players.

"Yet that gives other fellas the chance to put their hand up. And it will be good to see them.

"We have a large training panel. It includes seven of last year's minor squad.

"Dublin reached the All-Ireland U21 Championship semi-final, so these are the fellas we have been looking at.

"We looked at a lot of the club championship matches and players also impressed us there, so now they are getting their chance."

For the moment, Dublin will be without the injured duo of Dotsy O'Callaghan and Cian Boland.

"Dotsy is making progress, but it's slow. It will be a couple of months yet before we know will he be available to us," said Cunningham.

"Cian is making steady progress, but the start of the league might just come a bit too soon for him."

Dublin will open their league campaign with a home match against the All-Ireland champions, Tipperary, on February 11.

Waterford and Kilkenny will also be coming to the capital, while Dublin will face away trips to Cork and Clare.

In the match programme, 10-year-old Conor says his dream is for Dublin to win the Liam MacCarthy next September.


The Dublin chief didn't go quite so far.

He said: "It's important that we perform well in our matches, but you also need results to build confidence. You always go out to win every game."

Dublin did a Ruby Walsh coming to the last fence in this tussle to take the victory.

"At half-time, we asked some of the lads to up their work-rate. We weren't happy with the work-rate," stated Ger

"And our message at half-time was that since we have such a large panel, it's important to make the best of every chance you are given."

Both sides contributed generously to the spectacle. There was plenty of bright hurling.

Dublin sped into a five points to one lead in the first chapter, but the Stars levelled it at 0-5 each.

And from there until the close, it was nip and tuck.

The action didn't lack zest. But it was sporting.

Referee Sean Stack, like all the best poker players, kept the cards close to his chest.

There were some excellent points taken. In the first period, Oisín O'Rorke hit a peach.

He had a terrific outing, as did his forward colleague, Alex Quinn.

Chris Crummey captained the Stars, majestic at centre half-back.

Wearing the arm-band for Dublin was Cian Mac Gabhann, and he also excelled in defence.

"It was a very worthwhile exercise," noted Dubs Stars manager Peter Walsh.

"Both sides came out and played some good hurling. I think the crowd got value.

"Dublin pulled away in the end. They had a bit more running done over the Christmas. We were aware of that.

"We might have nicked a goal to have brought it closer, but it was all very positive from both teams.

"I think that, overall, everybody can be pleased. And on this evidence, Dublin hurling can be feeling optimistic going into the new season.

"There was no shortage of young talent on both sides. They were keen to give it a lash. And you had to admire their attitude."

One of those prospects, Quinn, the Crumlin colt, scored the first goal for the Stars at the Killester end.

It came from close range in the 29th minute and it helped the Stars to lead at the interval, 1-8 to 0-7.

Supporters didn't have to wait long for the second goal. It came from Dublin's Seán Ó Riain three minutes into the second half.

There was little between the sides for most of the way, and a draw looked quite likely, even late on.

But three points without reply earned Dublin their ticket.

The strikes came from Ó Riain, Fiontán MacGibb and Donal Burke.

Tom Connolly lofted over a pocket of gems for Dublin and Fergal Whitely also made a favourable impact.

"It was a good work-out for the first day of the year. It's nice to get started," added Ger Cunningham.

"It was a win-win situation for us really, because we had players on both sides.

"There were a half a dozen on the Dubs Stars that are with us as well. It's an opportunity players are getting a bit sooner than they expected.

"But it's all about having the mind-set to put their hand up to be considered.

"The word needs to go out there. We are looking at players. We are giving players a chance.

"And we'll be giving fellas plenty of chances in the Walsh Cup to see how they get on."

hurling: dublin 1-19 dubs Stars 1-14

SCORERS - Dublin: S Ó Riain 1-3, T Connolly 0-4, C Burke, F Whitely 0-3 each, C Conway, AJ Murphy 0-2 each, F MacGibb, D Burke (65) 0-1 each. Dubs Stars: A Quinn 1-4, O O'Rorke 0-4 (2f), D Fox, J McManus 0-2 each, R Mahon, C Costello 0-1 each.

DUBLIN: J Treacy; M Kavanagh, P Smyth, M McCallion; F Ó Rian Broin, M McCaffrey, C Mac Gabhann; C Conway, AJ Murphy; C Burke, S Ó Riain, J Holland; C Maher, T Connolly, A Moore. Subs: F Whitely for Conway; F MacGibb for C Burke; D Burke for Holland; B Quinn for Murphy; C Dowling for MacGabhann; J McGuirk for Connolly.

DUBS STARS: B McLoughlin; N Corcoran, R Walsh, J Bellew; C Murphy, C Crummey, R Mahon; C Costello, D Fox; R O'Carroll, J McManus, F Heavey; K O'Reilly, O O'Rorke, A Quinn. Subs: E Skelly for McLoughlin; E Sheehy for Walsh; R Hayes for Costello; G King for Heavey; S O'Dwyer for O'Reilly; P Crummey for McManus.

MENTORS - Dublin: G Cunningham, P Murphy, L Walsh, J McGuirk. Dubs Stars: P Walsh, K Dowling, K Collins.

REF: S Stack (Parnell's).

WIDES - Dublin: 19 (8+11). Dubs Stars: 12 (8+4).

Conditions: Cold, dry and bright.


dublin bus/herald dubs stars 2016

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