Wednesday 13 December 2017

Ger in no Rushe to reshuffle deck: O'Brien

Liam Rushe, Dublin, in action against Kieran Joyce, Kilkenny
Liam Rushe, Dublin, in action against Kieran Joyce, Kilkenny

WHILE Ger Cunningham mulls over where best to deploy Liam Rushe this Saturday in Ennis, former Dublin hurler Maurice O'Brien has predicted the St Pat's, Palmerstown man will see out the league in the number 14 jersey.

Rushe has been relocated from centre-back, the position in which he won on All Star in 2013, to full-forward, where he began his Dublin career as a teenager, with mixed results.

He has scored two goals (1-0 v Cork; 1-1 v Tipperary) in three league games thus far, whilst simultaneously cutting a frustrated figure in an attack which has nevertheless run up 3-65, second only to Cork (3-75) in their prolificacy in Division 1A.

Yet O'Brien feels Dublin's attack lacks physical presence in Rushe's absence, a fact which may sway Cunningham into prolonging the experiment.

"I was surprised at the start but I thought it was worth a look," said O'Brien, who retired from county action with Dublin after the conclusion of the 2013 season.

"He started out in 2009 as a corner-forward/half-forward and there was form there.

"And it was an area where Dublin were struggling for physical dominance, as much as anything. Somebody up there to hold things up.

"It was worth looking at. I think they'll persevere with it personally. Because what's 'Plan B' if they don't?

"I know Mark Schutte is physically big as well. But they've kind of set their stall with that. I can see them seeing out the league with him (Rushe) at full-forward."


Peter Kelly had, until last Saturday and his brush with Seamus Harnedy, been one of Dublin's best players this year in Rushe's old spot at centre-back but the nature of that defeat threw up new questions about each player's most beneficial usage.

"Without a doubt, he's a better centre-back than full-forward," says O'Brien of Rushe.

"But you have to weigh up your needs. Liam Rushe is an All Star centre-back.

"He may not be an All Star full-forward but for Dublin to move on a level, you may need him doing a job at full-forward.

"Maybe you just have to rob Peter to pay Paul and see what's best for your team and Ger Cunningham has made the tough decisions.

"He's sticking by it or at least, he's having a good look at it before he makes the ultimate decision on it.

"It was a terrible performance all round," says O'Brien of the performance against Cork. "A complete lack of urgency or physicality. I think it's a mental thing."

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