13 June 2014 12:00 AM
ANY definition of the word ambush – as many are wantonly labelling Dublin’s visit to Wexford Park tomorrow – includes the word surprise’ to its forefront and so, according to Anthony Daly, the is simile redundant.
Last year, he admits, it had all the trappings.
This year? It’s all out in the open between these two.
Full frontal hurling.
“Any element of surprise that Wexford would have had last year is gone out the window,” Daly told The Herald.
“There are no tricks up Wexford’s sleeve now, in terms of catching us on the hop.”
Try they did, however, last June in Wexford Park, just six weeks after Dublin had gone to the same venue and won by 14 points in a victory that left an eerie lull between that fixture and the one that counted.
Liam Dunne pulled every conceivable trick available. And it came very close to working.
He named a team featuring six personnel inaccuracies from the 15 named during the week (including a dummy goalkeeper) and a grand total of 14 positional changes.
“I’m managing the team and I’ll do it whatever way I like,” he said stoically afterwards.
“If I feel like doing it that way then that’s how I’ll do it. I don’t think there was anyone out there that didn’t know who they were.”
Dunne then went on to claim that the Dublin team had not been submitted on time for the match programme, a development which resulted in, as he put it, “all hell breaking loose”.
“There was a blank page going to be put in the programme because it was so late coming it. I think the guy that was putting it in the programme was on holidays … and if you think it was bad this week, wait ’till next week.”
That the game was a draw, amid a small bit of controversy after Mark Schutte dropped his hurley before setting up Eamon Dillion for Dublin’s crucial goal, and that Wexford subsequently (after losing replay to the Dubs in Parnell Park) drew with Clare in Thurles, means that Dunne’s men carry a flashing, fluorescent bio-hazard sign on them wherever they go this year.
“You only have to go back to last year and their two draws,” says Daly. “We won Leinster and Clare won the All-Ireland. They’re definitely making progress and they’re doing the right thing by sticking with their management and I would admire the Wexford board that way. They’re putting their eggs in Liam Dunne’s basket and that’s working out for them.
“But there’s no room for sentiment. I’d like to see Wexford making progress but it’s dog-eat-dog out there.
“I know they’ve come on a huge amount and I’d be very much aware of the coaching going on and you see Liam Griffin there involved as nearly as a selector now. They’re massively banking on how they’re going with underage and they hammered Kilkenny in the under-21. But I think we’re a few years on the road with these boys and we’re looking forward to it. It’s a great place to be.”
Understandably, Daly is keen to avoid talk of ill-will between the teams arising for the tempestuous replay in Parnell Park a week later and in that, he is consistent.
“All those big championship matches, especially replays, are feisty enough affairs,” said Daly about the game which featured a number of errant swings from Wexford players, the most obvious and ultimately telling of which was Andrew Shore’s on Ryan O’Dwyer in the eighth minute for which he was sent off by referee Brian Gavin.
As it happen, Wexford were fortunate not to be further reduced by the end, when Dublin stood eight points taller and on the cusp of a clash in Portlaoise with Kilkenny.
“Yeah, I’d be happy (that Dublin kept their discipline) but we never made an issue of it,” the Clareman points out. “Other people said a few things but we never complained and none of our players said anything that night.
“That’s championship hurling and probably the biggest benefit to us was Wexford being reduced to 14 men. They were very, very disciplined in their play against Antrim. They’ll have looked at it and we’ll have looked at it.
“It was a tough match the second day and we were thrilled to come out of it. A lot of people gave us no credit for that match but we felt that it was a big victory for us and I think that was borne out over the next few weeks.”
All of which means that Daly and Dublin are most certainly forewarned and so presumably, forearmed.
“They brushed Antrim aside really in the quarter-final,” the Dublin boss adds of the Slaneysiders’ 5-19 to 0-21 win a fortnight back.
“So we’re under no illusions, which is a good thing. Fellas are tuned into what’s facing them. But we’re big-time up for this.
“We’re probably going to be down a few bodies but we’re around these fellas long enough and they’re around us long enough. It’s a massive game,” Daly concludes, “and we’re just looking forward to it hugely now.”