Monday 19 March 2018

Reasons to be optimistic

Emerging talent gives Daly hope as positives from Premier draw can help Dubs kick on

LEGENDARY Hollywood film producer Sam Goldwyn's famous maxim, 'the harder I work, the luckier I get', was probably the most accurate explanation of Dublin's last-gasp draw with Tipperary at Croke Park on Saturday evening.

Liam Rushe's late goal deep in injury-time for Dublin was a technically irrelevant first Division 1A point, but the significance of having avoided a fourth defeat on the spin can't be dismissed.

After two head-wrecking one-point losses, Dublin were wholly entitled to their good fortune, even if the result meant they are now consigned to a relegation play-off with either next Sunday's opponents, Waterford, or Galway on April 15.


"In some ways that might be more intense than a league semi-final," noted Anthony Daly, who added he was "delighted" to finally see some points on the board. We're in (the relegation play-off) now for sure. Hopefully, we'll have a few more bodies available because the bodies are getting thin on the ground."

Daly's last point is well made. In the face of major and seemingly never-ending injury-enforced deprivation, it's the little things just now which are keeping Dublin ticking.

The emergence of new talent and the re-establishment of some older ones will keep the manager optimistic ahead of summer before the big names come trickling back into the equation. And, in that context, Saturday night was positive in many respects.

True, Tipp finished like a steam train, clipping six points against Dublin's one between the 62nd and 70th minutes, and displaying a hunger and intensity in the tackle which Dublin's palpably heavy legs couldn't match.

But the mere fact that Dublin lived, survived and, at times, thrived against Tipp (albeit injury-depleted themselves), furnishes further nuggets of optimism for Daly.

For a start, Danny Sutcliffe continues to grow in stature and confidence, and he now represents a live and dangerous championship option at wing-forward.

Both his points came within the first 12 minutes but he pulled down three spectacular balls in the second-half, the genesis for two Dublin scores.

David Treacy, a half-time replacement for debutant Eamon Dillon, hit 1-2 with his first three touches and quite obviously, the more exposure he gets to top level hurling, the more he looks like fulfilling his potential.

"Obviously, a fella we had massive time for," gushed Daly. "People were a bit disappointed with his first couple of performances but they forgot that he was out for two years.

"He's a great hurler. He has great hands. He just needs time to get to the speed of it."

There was also a positive debut for Niall McMorrow, who clipped two points after his own introduction, a development which suggests Dublin's squad strength is rapidly expanding.

Which, if at the rate they keep spring injuries continuing, is just as well. Paul Schutte was the latest man in a blue shirt to limp out of a match after an impressively composed display at full-back, although his hamstring injury didn't seem overly serious.

Along with the brilliant Niall Corcoran and Ruairí Trainor, Dublin's full-back line was one of their most functional units of the team - and it is no coincidence that Tipp's chief marksman, Brian O'Meara, hit three of his five points after Schutte went off.

"We wound up with Mikey Carton at full-back," said Daly. "I'd say that was a first for him. We had no one else really. O'Meara would test any makeshift full-back, never mind a natural there."


Previously, O'Meara looked to possess everything except a scoring touch but, after moving back to full-forward following Noel McGrath's brief but profitable stint there at the end of the first half, he wreacked havoc, scoring four points in the last 15 minutes.

Treacy's incisive dash and finish four minutes after coming on gave Dublin a cushion, but Pa Bourke kept pointing frees and McGrath and O'Meara seized the advantage back in Tipp's favour.

The latter's final score put the Munster champions three clear entering injury time but Rushe's high fetch and finish after a questionable number of steps from a well-worked Joey Boland delivery granted Dublin an unexpected - if probably deserved - draw.

"There is a little spring in the dressing room there now," Daly admitted. "The heads would have been hard to pick up on Tuesday night if we had come out the wrong end of that game.

"It looked like Tipp had it. We had a couple of chances last week to get a draw but today we got the break."

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