Dublin hurler Joey Boland trying his hand at golf
COLM KEYS – PUBLISHED 26 MARCH 2014 02:30 AM
Dublin have no one to blame but themselves for being in a relegation play-off for the second time in three years, one of their most experienced players has admitted.
Joey Boland, who has shaken off an ankle injury that ruled him out of the opening two league matches, has pinpointed the defeat to Galway on the opening day as the main reason for the predicament they now find themselves in.
But he is confident that Dublin are adaptable enough to win in Walsh Park, even though they haven’t won in Waterford for 11 years.
Dublin might have made the quarter-finals had Niall McMorrow shot for a point with the final play of the game against Tipperary last Sunday instead of dropping the ball short into the square in the hope of creating a goal opportunity to snatch a draw.
But Boland regards the defeat in Galway, when they were trounced by 0-28 to 1-12, as the rock on which they ultimately perished.
“It’s our own fault. We started the league with a really bad performance in Galway. We were badly prepared psychologically. They owed us one and they were ready for us,” he said.
Boland is at a loss as to why Dublin didn’t prepare themselves mentally for what Galway were going to throw at them.
“We have discussed this since then. Sometimes you just don’t realise that it is setting in. It’s only really when you get that kind of a setback that you step back and say ‘well, maybe we thought we were but we actually weren’t’.
“That’s sport, we see it happening often. Waterford turned up in Clare there and got an absolute hiding after beating us the week before – it’s just hard to put your finger on.”
The Na Fianna man insisted that being thrust into a relegation play-off in the circumstances in which it happened isn’t eating away at them, and acknowledged that there was uncertainty over what was required as the game against Tipperary edged to its conclusion.
“In a match like that, which is very high intensity where messages are coming on and stuff, they can be lost as well because players are so focused and in the zone,” he said.
“But we are where we are, we are not going to cry over a point or two. It’s our own fault to be in this position.”
Boland (right) believes this Dublin side are equally capable of hurling on fast surfaces like Croke Park or the soft conditions that prevail in Walsh Park, where they lost by 1-13 to 1-10 in the recent league match.
“There wasn’t much hurling done that day. Some described it as a bit like a rugby match. There was 10 on one side of the field, 10 on the other side,” he said.
“That’s the way it is, we’re actually quite good at that because we play in Parnell Park and it’s a bog half the time. If it’s out in Croke Park in the middle of open spaces, we’ve the legs for that. If it’s in a bog, we’ve got the bodies and strength for that. Whatever turns up, we’ll be ready for it.
“A lot of people are saying that home and away advantage is a three-point margin these days, especially in the league. We’ve got the advantage of having played there a few weeks ago, so I think it’s a level playing field.”
Nor is Boland concerned over Dublin’s failure to beat Waterford in the league in their last four matches.
“It’s not really in the back of our heads. It’s Waterford, it’s on a pitch, we’re not really going to fear them. We’re going to go down and try to express ourselves and come out with a result,” he said.
“Putting relegation aside, we’ve lost three matches, we’ve only won two. That’s below par for us. We have to get back up to at least 50-50, so we want to have won three and lost three at the end of the league.”
Boland is a physiotherapist by profession and has added his voice to the growing chorus of concern over the proliferation of cruciate injuries in GAA.
He firmly believes overload on bodies that are more athletic than ever is a contributory factor.
“My general theory is that we are trying to cram too much training into a week. We are trying to train Monday mornings with heavy weights, then trying to be fresh on a pitch Tuesday afternoon or Tuesday evening. I think the body just gets overloaded,” he said.
“Also we are becoming much faster and much more athletic than we have ever been. If you look at the (football) team of the ’70s, they were nowhere near as athletic as say the Dublin football team at the moment.
“With more athleticism comes more force, more power and more chance of your ligament going underneath you. Couple that with over-training, players just aren’t fresh sometimes going out onto the pitch.”