'No fondness' for Anthony if Crokes can't beat 'Boden
It might not have seemed an obvious match but Anthony Daly admits now he had "an affinity" with Kilmacud Crokes after his six years in charge of Dublin.
His most trusted sideline lieutenant, Richie Stakelum, and his team doctor, Chris Thompson, are both heavily involved with the club.
He was asked to hand out the senior team's medals after their 2012 county title while Daly even hosted the Dublin launch of his autobiography in the clubhouse back in 2015.
"When the call came in last October, I was thinking 'that'll be a long haul'," Daly recalls now ahead of Sunday's Dublin SHC final against Ballyboden St. Enda's.
"But the heart-strings were pulled by the Borrisoleigh man (Stakelum) and Professor Thompson.
"So I said 'yeah, I'll give it a lash.'
"I didn't know what I was getting myself in for. Except I knew Ollie (Baker) was there. Obviously Ollie and myself would be good friends so a quick chat with him and I said 'go on, I'll have a go.'
That they are in a county final is, in itself, nothing miraculous.
Crokes played in the last two Dublin SHC deciders under Baker but lost to Cuala.
Yet the evidence of Daly's work was clear two Sundays back when they ended the incredible run of success of Mattie Kenny and his side.
"Yeah, it's huge. But 'tis no cup," Daly reasons now.
"It'd be great to knock out Cuala and be getting the Championship. To knock out Cuala and then get a resurgent 'Boden is a totally different prospect.
"To be fair, by the time we left the dressing-room, we tried to numb all that. And just say 'it's done.'
"We may be able to look back at it at the end of the year with a bit of fondness. But there'll be no fondness if we lose the final.
"Realistically, the final is 50/50. Most people expected a 'Boden/Cuala final. And they were giving 'Boden a chance based all year with the work they'd done with Joe (Fortune).
"I don't think they've lost a game all year between League and Championship. They gave us a good trimming in the League.
"Hopefully we're coming good at the right time. We'll need another couple of per cent. I know that might be tough on Cuala.
"But they were a long time on the road. And there is an element of that in it. I suppose all week before the Cuala match, our line was 'can we ask the questions?'
"It's very difficult to keep that hunger in the gut all the time. So can we ask the questions? If they're good enough to come up with the answers, that's fine..."
"Crokes to me were always contenders," Daly adds, "and good and all as Cuala were nothing keeps going forever.
"Kilkenny; four in a row, will the Dubs do five in a row? I said that I'd have it up there with the Dubs four in a row for a Dublin club team to win back-to-back was incredible.
"It's another game and the players are very clear on that," Daly adds, "we'll need a massive performance."