Timing summer run is key for Treacy
World beaters one week, beaten by anyone the next - fix this and Dubs can go long way
Consistency. Momentum. Locate those elusive traits at the right time and you can go a long way in the race for Liam MacCarthy.
David Treacy knows all about it. He was on the Dublin team that almost fell at the first provincial fence in 2013, only to grab the reins, regain equilibrium and then gallop to Leinster SHC glory.
He was also part of the Sky Blue crew that suffered catastrophic meltdown at the start of a Leinster quarter-final replay against Galway last June. Despite a few flickers of defiant promise, even a couple of qualifier victories, they would never fully reignite.
So this 26-year-old knows the significance of a well timed run. He might even cite his own club's example: how Cuala caught fire to land last year's Dublin title. Yet, at county level, Ger Cunningham's Dublin are still trying to shed a reputation for staccato bursts and stalled progress.
Take this year's Allianz League. Comfortable top-tier survival - good. Three straight wins in the middle - excellent. But a woebegone start (in Tipperary) and a worrying climax (losing a quarter-final to Limerick in 'Fortress Parnell') - not so good.
"Every team wants to be consistent," says Treacy. "From the outside looking in, it's probably frustrating to see us one week where we're world beaters and the next week we can get beaten by anyone.
"I thought during the league we had a good run, especially after Tipp ... we put in three good ones against three oppositions. At the end it was quite flat but we were happy enough with those three performances in-a-row. And if we can build on that and hopefully put that together during the championship, then we'll be happy enough."
The seven weeks between Limerick in Donnycarney and Wexford in Croke Park tomorrow (7.15) are almost up.
"You know what you're going to get with Wexford and that's combative, tough, intense hurling," says Treacy of this Leinster quarter-final. "You could argue that they could have beaten Waterford in that league (quarter-final) so we're not taking them lightly."
History reinforces that point. True, the balance of power has shifted since 2008 and Wexford's last SHC victory over the Dubs, who have won three and drawn one of their last four summer encounters ... but even that epic 2013 run began with a fraught stalemate in Wexford Park.
As a further reminder for Treacy, Cuala dreams of a first Leinster club title were unravelled last November by an Oulart-The Ballagh team bursting with (admittedly former) Wexford stars.
"That was simple - that was down to experience on their side and inexperience on ours ... we never got out of the blocks," he recalls.
On the plus side, he reckons that club adventure proved a positive for his subsequent league form with Dublin.
"I don't know if it was in terms of sharpness but in terms of experience in those games ... playing in tough conditions all through the winter certainly stood to me," he surmises.
But now championship is upon us, and another quantum leap is required. That much was underlined as Treacy watched Clare and Waterford go hell for leather in that league final replay.
"You could look at the first one and say, 'Jaysus, that'd be handy enough!' But no, I think it was an amazing match and the way it finished, controversial, it had everything," he enthuses. "I was out on the wall probably straight after that match, thinking I've a bit of work to do."
Therein lies the challenge. It comes back to his original point about the "consistency that ever team looks for". Clare have that at the moment and "they'll be very difficult to beat with that momentum".
And yet the race for Liam, he believes, is wide open. There are landmines everywhere - and we haven't even mentioned Kilkenny, Dublin's prospective semi-final opponents in Leinster.
"Yeah, well, we're not looking past Wexford. If we're caught cold, you're on the same route as what we did last year, and it's that consistency we're looking for, to go match after match after match."
The Cats can wait.