Michael Carton: 'We love beating Galway'
Carton hopes Dublin can down marker but laments Dunne loss
IF the development of Dublin/Galway as a real hurling rivalry has proved anything, it's that geographic proximity isn't a prerequisite for a mutual animosity.
Merely, competitive familiarity and a shared goal.
According to Michael Carton: "Every time we play against them breathes that bit of rivalry.
"They're a fantastic hurling team, and we love beating them as well."
Which is probably an understatement. Or, at least, it was during the Anthony Daly era.
There have, since the Tribesmen's arrival to Leinster, been some tetchy encounters, both in the League and Championship.
There was Cyril Donnellan and Tomás Brady's sendings off for an off-the-ball spat in Salthill in 2010, Ryan O'Dwyer's dismissal in the 2011 Leinster semi-final and the pair of, at times, narky encounters the two played out in 2012, culminating in Dublin's relegation.
And with the two drawn together on June 1st in this year's Leinster SHC, Saturday night's Walsh Cup dress-rehearsal, one of three guaranteed competitive matches between the foes this year, should make for more required viewing than most hurling matches pre-League.
For Dublin, easily the most satisfying of those shared afternoons was the 2012 Leinster hurling final, a result that made their hammering in Salthill on the first day of last year's League somewhat inevitable, their only encounter in 2014.
"You put those things behind you," Carton, suspended for Saturday night on account of his straight red card against Laois last Sunday, insists.
"We look forward to playing them again this year, but we haven't played well in Galway, all down the years.
"It's in Dublin this year, but hopefully next time down there it will be a different story."
"The Walsh Cup is there for a bit of experimentation from both managers," the O'Toole's man reasons.
"And they'll have a fantastic side on Saturday.
"We have them in the Championship in the summer so hopefully we can go out and beat them on Saturday."
Carton, a starting Championship wing-back during almost of Daly's tenure, has played at full-back in one of Ger Cunningham's early experiments and largely, his new deployment has been a successful one.
"I've never played there before so it's completely new to me," he outlines.
"It's a new challenge and something new. I've the enthusiasm to play there. I want a starting place in the team so..."
A remove from his comfort zone?
"Not just myself but Peter Kelly at centre-back and Liam Rushe at full-forward.
"I think as a hurler you should be able to play anywhere. There are no complaints, you just get on with it."
The last week or so has seen the unexpected exit from Cunningham's management team of Tommy Dunne, a link to Daly's set-up and a highly-regarded one amongst the panel at that.
"Tommy is a huge loss for us," Carton admits."Just the experience he had, was vital. But Tommy is not the type of man.
"It's either 100 per cent or nothing. He's got his career, that's got to come first, and if he couldn't give us 100 per cent he had to drop off.
"But he is a huge loss. I think Tommy would walk into any management team throughout the country," adds Carton.
"He's held in such high regard, in every county."
Clues for stylistic change in Dublin's game aren't, bar the utilisation of some strong resources in unfamiliar areas, immediately apparent.
Cunningham's teams have generally employed a gameplan based around the principles of possession and Carton says it's too early in the introduction process to get an accurate read on the new man's intentions.
"I don't know at the moment.
"He wants to get to know us as hurlers, taking a backseat and seeing how we're getting on in hurling and training and matches so maybe later on a game-plan will come through."
"He has to get to know us as hurlers and see what we're like and see what kind of panel he has. He's learning as much as us the last few weeks."
Though absent on Saturday, Carton is likely to fit straight back into the team eight days later when Tipperary come to Parnell Park, a match thick in motivation after last summer's no show in Thurles.
"Oh absolutely. It couldn't but. We were so disappointed the way we played last year, against Tipp.
"We let ourselves down, so hopefully we can put up a big performance," Carton concludes.