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Injection of fresh blood gives hurlers timely boost

DOWN in the Peregrine's corridor, an Olympic gold medalist walked by. Michael Carruth is the masseur to the Dublin hurlers.

They didn't need the rub of the blue to win the annual Evening Herald/ Dublin Bus Dubs Stars spectacular.

They went to work early, and that is the tempo that the three wise men want to see maintained - Anthony Daly, Ciarán Hetherton and Richie Stakelum.

"Last year was a disaster," admitted Richie. "There is no point in saying anything else. This season it's all about getting our heads down and working. We just have to focus on performance and not get caught up in anything else. Last year we got a bit distracted by our injury situation."

Dalo and co felt that the return of the injured trio was well in hand, Tomás Brady, Stephen Hiney and Conal Keaney. "But playing practice matches in O'Toole Park and Parnell Park is a completely different thing to going into the white heat of battle.

"We probably put too much store in the three lads coming back. You don't come back from such serious, long-term injuries in the way we might have thought initially."

The winter has given the Dubs space for reflection. "Time is a great healer. We sat down and discussed things among ourselves.

"We decided to bring in a lot of youth. That has given us all a lift.

"Looking back on it, it was ironic that we had exactly the same scoring average last year when we were relegated as when we won the league the season before. That is bizarre.

"Whereas before we won some matches by a point, we now began to lose them by a point.

"Winning is a habit, but so is losing. And losing is a more difficult one to break," added Stakelum.

They'll be trying to get back to a winning streak in Fortress Donnycarney. Richie doesn't mind what theatre the Dubs play at. It will all come down to attitude.

"We'll see what kind of stomach we have for it. Every player loves playing in Croke Park. We have had some good days there.

"But we are back in Parnell now (for all home games except v Limerick on March 16). It is what it is and we'll just have to get on with it."

Dubs Stars manager, Gearóid ó Riain, is backing the Three Tenors to do the business.

"There's a lot of young talent after coming through, and I feel the Dublin management will put their shape on that," offered Gearóid, who took charge of the Dubs Stars with Harry Roberts.

The Dubs Stars could do little to repel the Dublin Express.

"The lack of not playing together told against us. We just couldn't get the co-ordination going and we leaked a lot of goals. After that, there's not a lot that could be done," noted Gearóid.

"But still it was a very beneficial exercise when you see young lads coming onto the county scene.

"It was a terrific day. And I felt the two Peregrine's players, Colm Foley and Shane Sweeney, acquitted themselves very well," concluded the Kilmacud Crokes man.