Dublin hurlers back in business
Daly delighted to see side get up and running after a beneficial battle with Star
DUBLIN 3-23, DUBS STARS 3-13. IT was cold in Tallaght. So cold that Anthony Daly hardly took the hands out of his pockets. He wore a hat and scarf.
And the wind that swept down from the Dublin Mountains brought mixed tidings about Dublin's three wise men - Stephen Hiney, Tomás Brady and Conal Keaney.
"All three are making progress," revealed Anthony, who stated that the Dublin medics are adopting a softly-softly approaching regarding the trio's comeback.
"Realistically, you are looking at the Leinster Championship before they are back. There will be no National League for any of them," stated the Blues boss.
"We are hoping to have them back for the summer. You just don't want to have a setback in their rehab. But so far so good.
"Stephen got the worst injury of the three of them. You have to respect the cruciate. You have to look at what the likes of Henry Shefflin did last year as he made it back for the Leinster Championship.
"The three boys are at different stages of recovery. But they are putting in the work. I think they were up the mountains on their bikes this morning.
"We are not looking any sooner than the Leinster Championship. If we could have them all back by then, fantastic. But Stephen mightn't even see the Leinster Championship."
The National League champs will be striving hard to hold onto their title before then. And Dalo was pleased with the effort at Thomas Davis yesterday.
"We are up and running now. We'll be back training on Tuesday night and we'll tear into it again. It was a good, lively game against the Dubs Stars.
"We have the Walsh Cup in a few weeks, so we'll get in a few challenges before then. We have Cork, Loughgiel and, possibly, Limerick lined up.
"We'll experiment in the Walsh Cup. We'll give fellas their head and see how they go.
"I thought the likes of Danny Sutcliffe, Conor Clinton and Ronan Walsh looked sharp and they were mad keen for road."
Silky Sutcliffe became the creator-in-chief, opening windows for the likes of Ryan O'Dwyer and Shane Ryan to profit.
"You always need a couple of new lads coming in to push things along. Some fellas had a nice bit of work done before Christmas and other fellas have a bit of work to do.
"We'll look forward to seeing them in the real stuff. Some players love the astro-turf, but I wouldn't have been a big fan of it myself when I was playing, especially on New Year's Day. I'd be saying 'take me off'," quipped the county chief to much amusement.
A decent crowd enjoyed a worthy tussle on the all-weather. The hosts had every detail covered. Eighty Thomas Davis personnel were happy to don the high vis-jackets.
The tie was level five times in the first half. But with the stiff breeze that blew into the road-end, Dublin began the sprint for the showers midway through the second period.
By the time the lights came on, it was clear that the Dublin skipper, Shane Ryan, would be accepting the trophy.
Yet the Dubs Stars also contributed much to the spectacle. Early on, Malachy Travers suffered a cut to his face.
But despite the chill and the blood, he kept smiling as he got treatment on the sideline, ever anxious to return to the action.
John O'Loughlin also showed his strength and finishing power. He smashed over a belter of a point before half-time.
If it had been any lower, the netting would have landed over in 'The Square.'
His half-forward colleague, Shane Stapleton, displayed some neat stick work and accuracy, while the biggest cheer of the hour greeted Ger O'Meara's splendid solo goal eight minutes from time.
O'Meara danced his way past the cover, dodging several challenges and controlling the sliotar on the timber as if he was on duty at the Lambert Puppet Theatre.
Dublin led by a point at the interval, 1-11 to 2-7, their close-in goal coming from the pacey Daire Plunkett on 19 minutes.
It was Conor McCormack who scored the opening goal for the Dubs Stars in the third minute, with Liam Ryan ticking on their second, six minutes from the break.
Dublin never let the lead slip after the tea. The nimble Peadar Carton arrowed in their second goal in the 44th minute, and two minutes later, captain Ryan struck the third.
But as he headed for the warmth of the clubhouse, the Dublin supremo was already looking at the bigger picture.
"Our first target this year will be to consolidate our position.
"There are only six teams in Division 1 of the National League. It will be tough.
"Lose the first two and you could be in trouble, win the first two and you could be flying.
"Teams can't afford to have too many slip-ups. I would have preferred if the division was left at eight teams. But at least we are in the top six and we are guaranteed five great games.
"That's very important for us. Division 1 is where you want to be."
Dalo stated he's not concerned that Dublin's success in 2011 will make life harder against sides that will now know what to expect from the born-again Dubs.
"We set the tone last year by doing well in the league. There were no secrets about us when we went to play Galway in the Championship in Tullamore.
"We have a good squad. If we get everybody back off the treatment table, that would make it very hard for us to pick a team.
"And that was always the priority when we took the job."