Monday 22 January 2018

Summer beckons after silver spring for Dubs

Bastick says Dublin's focus has already turned towards battle for Championship

Denis Bastick, Dublin, in action against Dick Clerkin, Monaghan
Denis Bastick, Dublin, in action against Dick Clerkin, Monaghan

WHEN Dublin won the 2013 All-Ireland, Denis Bastick took hold of Sam Maguire on the podium in the Hogan Stand and before raising the cup to the sky, held two fingers up to signify his second such experience of September glory.

In Croke Park last Sunday, he won his third League title - on the spin, too - yet, somewhat predictably, there was no three-fingered salute to mark the fine achievement.

"Maybe, when you look back on those things when you retire, we'll see it as a significant (achievement)," Bastick told the Herald after Cork were so easily dismissed and the New Ireland Cup (the Division 1 League trophy, in case you hadn't heard) was confirmed as a resident of Dublin for a third year running.

"We're in a present, here and now. And it's all about trying to perform. That was the case today.

"Maybe in the future, when I'm retired, you'll look back at the medals and what you won.


"But definitely not at this time," Bastick asserted. "I'm really just focused on the Championship now and trying to do something there."

Barring some untold catastrophe, he'll certainly get his chance.

Bastick might be 33 and by conventional inter-county wisdom, in the dotage of his midfield career, but you'd struggle to think of a better 'find' for Jim Gavin this spring.

Last year, sabotaged by injury, Bastick played precisely no Championship football, just a year after making such a pronounced impact on the 2013 All-Ireland final, wherein he set up Bernard Brogan's second goal after appearing as a sub against Mayo, in a gruellingly physical match well suited to Bastick's abrasive stylings.

And not that Michael Darragh Macauley and Cian O'Sullivan don't possess their charms as an midfield pairing, but the impression lingered last year that the alternative to one, either or both, were it required, might seriously dilute Dublin's potency in that area.

Bastick's performance against Cork on Sunday, and indeed, throughout this year's League, have arguably put him ahead of either Tomas Brady or Brian Fenton in the audition for midfield roles, both of whom have established themselves as viable Championship options as it is.

In a League when both Macauley and O'Sullivan have missed patches through injury (plus Gavin's inevitable temptation to unleash the latter at centre-back following his performance there on Sunday) it bodes well for Bastick's summer prospects.

"It feels great. It's great to get to some game time leading into the Championship so nice to play today and nice to play in a League final," he confirmed afterwards.

"Everybody wants to play too, you owe it to the rest of the players, if you get that chance, to do a job and do them proud as well.


"Everybody wants to play. Everyone wants to make the panel and you really need to capitalise on that chance when you do get it."

Bastick's chance came early this year.

Indeed, as early in the year as you can get.

On New Year's Day, in Parnell's, he lined out in midfield for Dublin in the annual Dublin Bus/Herald Dubs Stars challenge, not a known hunting ground for those senior panellists who happen to have strayed into their 30s.

Having briefly considered packing it all in, he was glad just to be there.

"When the body is hurting and it's not doing what you're trying to make it do, obviously there are questions in your mind," Bastick admitted.

"But that's when you have to dig deep and focus hard. We have a great medical team, a great backroom staff.

"They'll get you right to get you back in the frame again."

Surprised at all then to be a League champion?

"The start of the League, with the Sigerson and Under 21, there are a lot of distractions and I suppose when we settled down, we got some good performances and we pushed on," he notes.

"I suppose in a final, you need to perform. Every thing came right on the day.

"We were after a performance, that's what we looked at and everything else followed. Great to win a final," Bastick concludes. "But it's all about summer now."

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