herald

Thursday 17 January 2019

Semi showdown with Tribesmen can’t come quick enough for me

FOR this Dublin team to be in the situation where the majority of pundits are describing the Leinster SHC semi-final as ‘a toss-up’ shows how far we have come over the last 10 months.

What the pundits think will transpire when we take on Galway in Tullamore on Saturday night doesn't matter one little bit, of course.

The preparation has been all but completed at this stage and what counts now will be which team holds its bottle in the intensity of the intimidating cauldron of emotions that is a Leinster semi-final.

You can either dread the pressure of these types of nights, or embrace and love the honour of representing your county in such a situation and feed off the nervous excitement.

As can be expected, everybody will be tense and nervous, but I for one am just wishing the days away till this Saturday arrives. I feel we have put in a great season’s work and we are now ready to give a great performance.

Hopefully, that would be enough to bring victory for the Dubs but we also respect the challenge posed by an enormously talented Galway side that have prepared just as professionally.

As last year's All-Ireland-winning coach, Liam Sheedy, said on RTÉ last Saturday evening, the team tasked with taking on the Cats in this year's Leinster final will need a huge test this weekend to prepare properly.

This weekend's victors have the added incentive of avoiding the perilous qualifiers with a guaranteed quarter-final spot as well as a shot at wrestling the Bob O'Keeffe trophy from Brian Cody's men.

The spoils for the winning team this weekend are great and expect a full-blooded championship contest when these two teams take to the field.

Our injury situation has improved by the day and we're very optimistic that Tomás Brady will be fit to take his place.

Joey Boland's shoulder injury is proving more stubborn, however, and despite the fact that he has made great progress, we will probably make a late enough call on whether to include Joey or not.

OPTIONS

If the Na Fianna man is absent for the game, we have the experience of dealing with injuries all year and we have a number of options.

There is probably a bit to be said for bringing this game to Tullamore. The last day against Offaly was a bit surreal in Croker with such a small crowd.

The 10,000 Dubs fans that turned up that day were outstanding and hopefully in the tighter confines of Tullamore they can inspire us to victory.

I'm confident we'll have a large travelling support, although we're aware that it's very difficult for the fans to keep forking out week-in week-out supporting Dublin in both codes.

The decision to move the quarter-final game out of Parnell Park was made in good faith by the Leinster Council following the league final success and the buzz it created.

There will be a rip-roaring atmosphere this weekend in Tullamore, a modern stadium perfect for the game of hurling, and may the best team win.

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