Liam Rushe: 'I prefer centre-back but full-forward is great craic when the ball is coming in'
LIAM RUSHE says he judged his last sojourn at full-forward "a failed experiment," though accepts circumstances might aid better results this year, should he be retained there.
His uprooting from the centre-back spot back to a position he most recently played for Dublin in the damp squib summer of 2012 is the most noticeable of Ger Cunningham's early-reign positional experimentations, one which yielded a goal, a point and a direct goal assist against Tipperary last Sunday in Parnell Park.
"I think we have different personnel now in a big way than we had then," Rushe began, when asked why it might work more comprehensively this time 'round.
"And I think there is a lot more balance and maybe it might work this time and there are different lads pushing through and PK (Peter Kelly) could be a grand centre-back and free me up for elsewhere or vice versa," says the St Pat's of Palmerstown man.
And did it really fail so badly, given Rushe was honoured with an All Star in attack in 2011, though more specifically, at wing-forward?
"It did and it didn't.
"I was still there against Clare in 2012 and we were comfortably winning that game until they got a man sent off and it all went pear shaped so … I don't know, it's a funny one."
It's probably safe then, to say Rushe saw his installation at centre-back in 2013 as a permanent sort of a fixture, particularly after winning his second All Star in the spot.
And you wouldn't be troubling the borders of misrepresentation to surmise that a relocation would be his preferred outcome.
As it is, he reckons selection issues remain "all up in the air up until mid summer," but acknowledges: "I suppose it is a small bit more serious that he has continued it on (from the Walsh Cup) and we'll see how it goes for the league."
All of which sounds like (a) playing full-forward is not entirely to his tastes and (b) he took some cajoling.
Not so, apparently. "I didn't take any persuading at all really," he insists.
"He's (Ger Cunningham) the manager. He threw me in there in training one day and said we'd try it and have a look.
"That's pretty much the same line I got come Walsh Cup and come league.
"We'll try it and if it's a winning formula, I'm happy enough.
"I always said I like centre-back," he admits before adding: "that's where I like to play, but full-forward is great craic once the ball is coming in."
So, is it working?
True, Rushe has scored three goals in four appearances this calender year at full-forward but similarly, he was frustrated last Sunday by Paul Curran's zealous marking/fouling of him, a paucity of possession and/or an uncharacteristically slippy left hand.
"It's a bit of a learning curve," he says.
"I'm a bit raw at times, spinning around in circles ... and you'd want to see me shooting over my shoulder!
"But other than that things are coming good."
And then he seized upon a break and with Tipperary already mentally back on their team bus, Rushe fired a peach off his left side past All Star goalkeeper, Darren Gleeson.
"It was probably borne of frustration really," he recalls.
"I got a clean hand on three or four balls and they all slipped out of my grasp.
"I think once I saw half a chance, I was going straight for goal no matter what. There's always a chance, any time you get the ball around 30 yards from goal there's always a chance, so I just said I'd go for it."
Last time Rushe played at full-forward in Nowlan Park, Dublin scored six goals yet somehow lost by a point in the 5-16 to 6-12 epic of 2012.
That was the day Danny Sutcliffe started his war with Tommy Walsh but Rushe, whilst scoring just a point, was hugely effective as target-man-cum-playmaker.
Indeed he was marked by JJ Delaney and the man described recently by Brian Cody as the "greatest defender I ever saw" didn't see the end of the game.
"I think there was a lot of talk in the media about Kilkenny being at half mast for the League with so many lads retired and injured and that but I think they showed they weren't on the first day," Rushe surmises of Sunday's trip back to Nowlan Park.
"There's such competition in that panel."