Decies game not a dead rubber for Dubs
Shock in Galway changes outlook for Dublin's hurlers
DUBLIN are now certain participants in the Allianz Hurling League Division 1A relegation play-off on April 15 following Saturday's dramatic draw with Tipperary in Croke Park, but events in Salthill yesterday attach far greater significance to next Sunday's trip to Waterford.
The Decies' lost a second selector - Br Philip Ryan - in a week, after yesterday's one-point win over Galway in Pearse Stadium, a result which now means that they still have a chance of avoiding meeting the Dubs twice-in-a-row and could yet drag Anthony Cunningham's charges into the relegation picture with victory next Sunday.
As it stands, Waterford have two points, while Galway - who technically, can still make the league semi-finals - are stuck on four.
But should the Decies make it back-to-back wins in Fraher Field next Sunday and the Tribesmen lose to Kilkenny, Michael Ryan's men will finish in fourth place by virtue of head-to-head superiority as a consequence of yesterday's result.
Galway travel to Nowlan Park next week, but, regardless of the course of that match, Waterford still need to beat Dublin at home to stand a chance of automatic survival in the top flight.
After Saturday's match, Anthony Daly suggested he would rest the majority of the players who had played three tough matches over the past three weekends but it remains to be seen whether he will now change tack given next Sunday's match is no longer the dead rubber it had threatened to become and, effectively, Dublin could dictate the identity of their play-off opponents if they win or draw with Waterford.
"From our point of view, fellas need a break," Daly said. "We may have a look at a few lads that weren't in the 26 today. We badly need to freshen up, I feel. We had three savage tussles, more intense than normal league games. And Croke Park adds to that as well.
"We know we face the relegation final on April 15, so, in some ways, that might be more intense than a league semi-final. It'll be a great pre-run for the championship and hopefully we'll have a few more bodies available because the bodies are getting thin."
Full-back Paul Schutte limped off on Saturday, leaving Michael Carton to man an unfamiliar posting. But Daly explained that the Cuala defender's ailment was a "tweak rather than a tear" and he should be available if not for next Sunday, then the play-off on April 15.
He was also encouraged by the performance of Niall McMorrow, making his senior competitive debut as a second-half substitute, who scored two points in the process.
"We played a match between a development squad and the U21s on Monday and he was awful sharp and he came in and got two points," Daly said. "It's testing the depth but it's good to see lads taking the chance when they get the chance."
Waterford, meanwhile, hope to persuade former county star and Passage East clubman, Seán Cullinane, to replace Ryan, who stood down yesterday.