ANTHONY Daly has called on the Dublin hurling fraternity to challenge “the perceived natural order” in the county and “demand the best for Dublin hurling as an entity, as a thriving culture.”
In his autobiography – Dalo – published this week, the Clareman describes something of a running battle to secure adequate training facilities and access to Parnell Park throughout his six year stint as Dublin manager.
In one passage pertaining to a postponed Walsh Cup semi-final with UCD in January of this year, Daly recalls: “What happened a couple of weeks back was a disgrace.
“Our match against UCD in the Walsh Cup was called off because Parnell Park was unplayable,” he writes.
“We never opened our mouths and played the following Tuesday. We looked for Parnell that weekend ahead of the Walsh Cup final but were refused.
“Then the footballers sauntered in and played three thirty-five minute periods against Cork. The pitch now looks like a herd of wild elephants was let loose on it.
“And this on the same ground we have to play our only two home League games, both of which are against the last two All-Ireland champions.”
In another, Daly recalls having “war with (Dublin GAA CEO) John Costello,” in an exchange over a similar issue.
“I asked him where we were training next Thursday night and he couldn’t tell me,” the chapter reads.
“I asked him about the availability of Parnell Park and he ruled it out because there’s still more club championship matches to be played.
“When he told be we were in St Paul’s, I nearly jumped down the phone. ‘So we’re in a field with rabbit holes all over the pitch?
“And a soccer match on beside it? No, we’re not going back there. I want one night in Parnell Park and that’s it.
“I have a great relationship with Costello. He is the ultimate professional, but I was already having it hot and heavy with him about the home-and-away agreement made with Wexford, which had only been clarified to me a couple of days earlier.
“If we meet Wexford, we’ll have to go back down to Wexford Park, even though it will be a Leinster semi-final. ‘Would it happen with the footballers, John? Have the footballers somewhere to train next week?
“I need Parnell, and I need the grass cut. I don’t care how bad the surface is but I need the grass cut to the bone so the ball is moving.”
Daly also reveals how, amid the row over the availability of Rory O’Carroll for the 2010 Leinster Under 21 hurling final, he had “a few heated phone calls with Pat Gilroy,” and later, he suggests both Cormac Costello and Eric Lowndes were forbidden from attending a pre-season meeting of the hurling squad to hear his plans for the 2013 season.
“Some people were annoyed that I didn’t make a stronger push to enlist Cormac Costello and Eric Lowndes when they finished up as minors,” he explains.
“That is just not my way. I invited them to our first meeting and asked them to hear what we had to say before they made an decision,
“Just before the meeting was due to start, I received almost identical texts from both that they were going with the footballers.
“You wouldn’t need to be a genius to work out that they were probably given a directive.
“That’s fine, but there are right ways and wrong ways to do these things.
“Be straight. be upfront. Of course you want what the best for your group, for your crowd.
“You want the best players. There are complications when they are dual players but let them make up their own mind.”
Right through the book though, which combines a dual narrative of his final season with Dublin with a more general chronicle of his life in hurling, Daly is notably optimistic that further progress can be made for the lesser celebrated code in Dublin.
“Dublin has so much going for it as a county – numbers, clubs, enthusiasm. In trying to make a hurling culture permanent, though, Dublin hurling has got to stand up for itself more.
“To demand the best for Dublin hurling as an entity, as a thriving culture.
“In that organic system, a pervasive and continuous culture of winning will grow stronger all the time,
Whilst accepting football will always have a natural draw in the capital, Daly stresses: “that doesn’t mean that the hurlers should accept their place in that perceived natural order
“You risk falling out with people but you have to challenge that natural order if you want to improve.”
“If I have achieve nothing else in my time with Dublin, I hope my most important legacy is not the medals won or glory gained.
“It will be about the attitude instilled, the standards demanded. The example we set as a squad. The culture of excellence which defines Dublin hurling..
“A culture that in time will hopefully be on a par with football.”