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Thursday 13 December 2018

'This isn't a building year, we want to move things forward'

Hurling mad Kenny a great fit for Dubs job, says Moran

Seán Moran says Dublin's hurlers are looking to progress next year under his former Cuala boss, Mattie Kenny
Seán Moran says Dublin's hurlers are looking to progress next year under his former Cuala boss, Mattie Kenny

They only trained for the first time on Saturday morning but all the early noises coming from the new Dublin hurling camp have been harmonious.

Mark Schutte was there on Saturday for the first time since 2016 and, whatever about other additions to the squad, it appears as though all of this year's panel have made themselves immediately available.

Last week at an AIG All Blacks/Dublin GAA promotional event, Eoghan O'Donnell told us Mattie Kenny had been the choice of the Dublin players to replace Pat Gilroy.

And speaking here, at another, Seán Moran confirms that despite the unexpected and abrupt change in management, 2019 is not being viewed as a transitional season by the squad or their new leader.

"We put a good foundation even if we were obviously unsuccessful reaching our goals," reflected Moran on 2018.

"But we're looking forward to this year. There's new management there. This isn't a building year. This isn't a rebuilding.

"We're looking to move forward and progress things from where we left off last year."

Passion

Moran offers an educated assessment of Kenny's managerial abilities,

He was his first-choice centre-back in both of Cuala's All-Ireland club wins and arguably their most influential hurler in the 2017/2018 campaign.

"He's hurling mad," Moran outlines.

"He loves hurling and that really transmits to the players. So I'm really looking forward to the lads with Dublin getting to work with him and experiencing his passion for the sport.

"He'll be a really good fit with Dublin hurling."

"It's hard to put a finger on it. But I think it really is just the passion, the love he has for the game.

"He's all hurling focused.

"He has a strong hurling background and that really does come across in his coaching."

Given his record with Cuala, his familiarity with the local scene and his experience with a highly-functioning inter-county side in Galway, Kenny was arguably the most qualified available interested candidate ever to apply for the Dublin job this time last year when Gilroy was appointed.

A year on, he has a second All-Ireland club title to add to his CV and despite being overlooked last year, it became quickly evident that Kenny's interest in the job hadn't been adversely affected.

"He's always been about controlling what he can control," notes Moran.

"He was working with Cuala last year when Pat was selected as the Dublin manager.

"But he's always up for taking a challenge. He wouldn't hold anything against anyone like that."

In hindsight, we might conclude that the sequence of events worked to everyone's benefit.

Gilroy's work in bringing back so many of the disaffected and quickly generated a close group spares Kenny that time-intensive task.

The transitional year has been completed.

Plus, Cuala and Kenny got their second All-Ireland in the mean time.

And given Cuala were beaten in the semi-final of this year's Dublin SHC, it brought a natural end to his tenure and gives the players some competitive respite.

"It could be looked at like that. This position became available and he saw it as a new challenge for him that he wanted to take on," Moran pointed out.

"He owes us nothing with Cuala. He'd been a great manager and a great coach with us for the last number of years.

"And everyone in Cuala is excited for Mattie and the next challenge in his career."

What is clear is that Kenny takes on the Dublin job with the blessings of everyone in Cuala.

There is an acknowledgement in the club that despite their clearly talented bunch of players, much of their success came from how astutely they were coached and managed.

"After we won the first one, we wanted to set out our stall. We didn't want to just die off then," Moran explains.

"And it's a very tough Championship to win.

"You go right through playing tough games against teams from Dublin, Leinster and into the All-Ireland. It's very tough.

"We got the rub of the green a few times. But it's great to have those memories. It's great to have that to look back on in years to come.

"It was brilliant to have that achievement."

"It's hard to take it all in."

Moran admits next year will be "different" for him after rejoining the Dublin squad after the League had concluded in each of the last two season.

"This will be the first time when I have an actual run at the League, getting a bit of pre-season.

Harm

"It's not a break I wanted but yeah, looking forward to getting some pre-season maybe a few more matches with Dublin under my belt.

"There's no harm in that."

"The more you play with each other, the more understanding you have of each other's game.

"So looking forward to getting a few games in in the League and the Walsh Cup."

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