'If Dublin, in my book, were going to win an All-Ireland, Liam Rushe would be centre-forward', reveals former Dubs boss
SOMETIMES a manager must bend to pragmatism. And that helps to explain the positional U-turn that saw Liam Rushe restored to centre-back and Conal Keaney reverting to full-forward against Laois.
So surmises Michael O'Grady about the dilemma that faced Dublin manager Ger Cunningham in the painful aftermath of their crushing Leinster exit to Galway.
"I did agree with Ger when he put Liam Rushe up front. I thought it was a good move. And Conal Keaney was a back by nature one time," O'Grady reminds. "But we've got to be realists. When it didn't work in Tullamore - we didn't use it well, admittedly, we were tactically naïve in relation to a gale force wind - I'd say his neck was on the block really if we didn't beat Laois. And he probably had no choice.
"The consensus would be to put Liam back at centre-back. But Liam had a rather quiet game actually, centre-back."
Ahead of Saturday's date with Limerick, O'Grady remains adamant that Rushe shouldn't be pigeon-holed purely as a No 6.
"If Dublin, in my book, were going to win an All-Ireland, Liam Rushe would be centre-forward," he argues. "Dublin have a good supply of backs, but I just believe - maybe at this moment in time - it was important to do what they did.
"But I actually believe that Liam Rushe could be used in both positions, depending on the type of game. If you're playing with a wind, why not put him up in the forwards? If you're playing into a gale, why not put him back centre-back?
"There's no reason fellas can't move up and down. Westmeath did it in football (with Kieran Martin). I think hurlers have to be a bit more … Liam Rushe started as a forward. He's a great centre-back, but most forwards would make good backs."
He then referenced last weekend's Sunday Game debate over where best to play Dublin's two-time All Star - former boss Anthony Daly backing his restoration to centre-back but Donal Óg Cusack favouring a forward role.
"Interestingly, Donal Óg said that he thought Liam Rushe played centre-back as an old-style centre-back and I think I'd agree with Donal Óg on that one. I don't think he's the modern style of centre-back," O'Grady suggests.
"When he gets the ball, he doesn't clear the ball out fast. Forwards love fast ball; Liam rarely gives a fast ball. He tips around the field a bit and passes it to wing-back or something. He's a great fielder, but fielding is only half the battle. The other half is even bigger - you're giving the ball down to the forwards. But I'd agree with Ger, I think he had no choice but do it last Saturday night and the fact that he won proves the point."