Saturday 16 December 2017

Ger Cunningham's men gearing up for his second season after Fenway shoot-out

Padraic Mannion of Galway, in action against Dublin’s Fíontan McGibb during the AIG Fenway Hurling Classic.
Padraic Mannion of Galway, in action against Dublin’s Fíontan McGibb during the AIG Fenway Hurling Classic.

There was no denying the very genuine kick both Dublin and Galway's players got out of Sunday's AIG Fenway Classic in Boston.

The good vibes radiated through everyone involved, too. And yes, the American media thought hurling was best sport they hadn't seen until just then.

Fenway Park was, in hindsight, an inspired choice of venue too and in a busy weekend for sports in the city, the hurling match was prominent in local newspaper and television reports the next day.


It helped, naturally, that the attitude of the players was committed and there was plenty of good hurling too, particularly for a match played under revised rules in the inter-county off season.

"Seeing the lads again, it does give you a good buzz for next year," confirmed Chris Crummy, who began last year having spent two years in the Dublin panel but yet to make a debut in League or Championship.

After an excellent break-out year, he'll most likely begin 2016 as a central member of the Dublin defence when some time in the next month, Dublin start their pre-season.

"Definitely, I was happy the way things went in 2015 but there's so much more to build on for 2016," he explained.

"Before, I was on the bench looking in. It's a different feeling altogether.

"It makes you want to get into the team again next year and do better in those big matches."

It made for good viewing on Sunday that the 11-a-side game was so close, but neither was it any great surprise.

It's largely lost in the story of the season but Dublin and Galway drew in Croke Park, yet one finished up in an All-Ireland final and another, exiting to Waterford just when looked to have turned a corner by beating Limerick a round before.

"Momentum is a huge thing in any sport. When a team does get a run on you, they're hard to stop," Crummy pointed out.

"Look at Galway. They got momentum after they beat us in Leinster and they nearly won the All-Ireland.

"So momentum is huge. And when you lose, it can be difficult to come back from, especially with the long gaps between matches.

"Players want to be playing every week."


"Look at 2013, when we did win Leinster. We had two replays. We had games every week really.

"If you ask any of the lads, they'll tell you that that's what you want."

Judging by their reactions yesterday, they'd also fancy another game in America.

And with just shy of 28,000 attending on Sunday, Boston would seem a very natural permanent home for the series should the relevant parties wish to stage it again.

Before that, Ger Cunningham has an important second season to attend to as Dublin manager but after all the forced experimentation of 2015, he sits in a more familiar position.

"When a manager comes in that wouldn't be as familiar with the scene, he needs to get to know lads," Crummy said. "He needs to get to know players and the club scene.

"Every year is going to help. And hopefully we can go a bit further this year."

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