Sunday 17 December 2017

Road to glory: How foundations were laid for hurling success

DUBLIN'S path this year to their first provincial title since 1961 was the culmination of years of terrific work done at all levels as the Dubs drive to join the elite of hurling.

Momentum has increased since the appointment of Anthony Daly and his management team in late 2008 but the seeds had been sown prior to that point with the introduction of development panels, emphasis on school and college squads and a generally more professional outlook.

The list below highlights some pivotal moments in Dublin's hurling renaissance over the past 12 years and the influence of many current senior hurlers.

Leinster Colleges SH Final: Dublin Colleges v Good Counsel, Dr Cullen Park, March 31, 2001

Following two successive final defeats at the hands of St Kieran's, the Dubs, under the stewardship of Colm Mac Séalaigh, eventually gained revenge on the Kilkenny nursery with a memorable extra-time win at the semi-final stage.

Captained by Conal Keaney at centrefield and including senior panellists Stephen Hiney and David O'Callaghan, Dublin raced into an early five-point lead and held on by 1-9 to 1-6 with 'Dotsy' claiming the crucial goal.

Leinster MHC Final: Dublin v Wexford, Croke Park, July 3, 2005

A first provincial crown since 1983 was just reward for the Dubs as they defeated Wexford by 0-17 to 0-12 with John McCaffrey captain of a panel that also included Shane Durkin, Joey Boland and Declan O'Dwyer from Anthony Daly's current panel.

Tomás Brady, who this year opted for football, was also an inspirational presence.

All-Ireland Colleges SH Final: Dublin Colleges v St Flannan's, Dr Cullen Park, May 1, 2006

A Bank Holiday Monday to remember for the Dubs as they claimed the Croke Cup for the first time as a superb second-half display helped them overcome St Flannan's of Ennis by 1-11 to 0-11.

Leading by 0-8 to 0-4 at the interval, Cian McBride's 42nd-minute goal gave Dublin added momentum while goalkeeper Simon Lambert showed his versatility with a string of superb saves.

Leinster U-21HC Final: Dublin v Wexford, Parnell Park, July 18, 2007

A memorable night in The Neller as Seán Lane guided the Dubs to a deserved but nervy 2-17 to 3-9 win over Offaly.

McCaffrey captained the side and settled nerves with two superb points when he joined the action in the second half with Durkin, Brady, Boland, Alan McCrabbe and O'Dwyer all making the starting 15.

Leinster U-21 HC Final: Dublin v Wexford, Parnell Park, July 14, 2010

After a comprehensive win over Kilkenny at the semi-final stage, Dublin were burdened by the tag of favouritism in the early exchanges with the participation of current Dublin senior footballer Rory O'Carroll dominating their build-up.

However, the Dubs class finally told via late goals by Daire Plunkett and David Quinn to seal a 2-15 to 0-15 win.

Walsh Cup Final: Dublin v Kilkenny, Parnell Park, February 27, 2011

A remarkable opening half saw Dublin claim a 1-11 to 0-2 interval lead with Conor Clinton claiming the goal and when Plunkett netted on the restart, the Dubs were 2-14 to 0-5 ahead in an almost surreal atmosphere in Donnycarney.

The inevitable Kilkenny comeback materialised but a strong finish saw Dublin home by 2-17 to 2-13 to claim their fifth Walsh Cup and build on their promising semi-final win over Galway.

National Hurling League Final: Dublin v Kilkenny, Croke Park, May 1, 2011

Dublin followed up on their Walsh Cup success by claiming a wonderful and deserved 0-22 to 1-7 win over the Cats, who had Eoin Larkin dismissed in the opening half for a foul on Conor McCormack. Leading by 0-11 to 1-2 at the break, Dublin pulled clear in the closing stages with a point from under the Hogan Stand by Keaney illustrating the new-found confidence.

Leinster SHC Final: Dublin v Galway, Croke Park, July 7, 2013

The Holy Grail was finally delivered with Paul Ryan striking 2-7 to help the Dubs outclass a poor Galway outfit by 2-25 to 2-13. Goals from Joe Canning and David Burke raised a few heartbeats amongst the Dublin support but an impressive cameo from substitute Conor McCormack and Keaney's tour de force settled matters as the Dubs cruised home by 12 points.

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