Dublin boss impressed with Cats' graduation
PERCEPTIONS about Kilkenny and the reality don't always reconcile, however snugly they might fit with the narrative of their brilliance.
The idea, for instance, of a 'conveyor belt of Kilkenny talent' incessantly fuelling their success is slightly askew upon closer analysis.
The term suggests a ready-made and orderly queue of sturdy, skilful young hurlers, awaiting the slightest creek in the joints of whichever legend should happen to currently populate their own preferred position, at which point, hey presto, the transition is quickly and seamlessly made.
"I think the key is not lobbing in a whole pile of them together," says Daly about the successful graduation of a new generation of Cats, a luxury he wasn't afforded in the early days of his Dublin project.
"We possibly had to do that a few years ago with the '07 under-21 team and the '05 minors. They were lobbed in, a lot of them. The likes of Joey (Boland), Johnny (McCaffrey), Tomás (Brady).
"Then you had to throw in another lump in Dave Treacy, Simmo (Lambert), (Liam) Rushie and those guys but there is a change in the dynamic that way and we might be able to cherry-pick a little more."
"People questioned two years ago when Tipp beat Kilkenny about the conveyor belt but they put that to bed this year with the likes of (Richie) Doyle, (Cillian) Buckley, (Paddy) Hogan, Matthew Ruth. In the league final, they just had way too much for Cork on the day."
There are some who slide straight in, such as Buckley, for instance, who hasn't been forced to wait, as injuries to Michael Fennelly and Michael Rice have facilitated an early ascension.
Fennelly, the current Hurler of the Year, is a case in point. He was in his mid-20s before he could be classified as a Cody regular, while others like Brian Hogan, who lined out in their last Leinster defeat in 2004 before re-establishing himself years later, took a less direct route to greatness.
"In fairness to them," Daly adds, "Paddy Hogan had a great game in the league final and young Buckley looks a natural. He's like a shaggin' clone of some of the rest of them, isn't he! The running, the power... and he's only a young lad.
"Paddy Hogan must be 25 or 26 and you couldn't say he was fully established if they had everyone. But he's a very good player.
"He was willing to wait his chance and showed dedication and he's playing very clever hurling in midfield, as evidenced in the league final."