TOM HUMPHRIES Reports
ALLIANZ HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION ONE Waterford 3-16 Dublin 2-19: DUBLIN AND Waterford have made a habit of slugging out these early season games in a manner which leaves the winner oddly encouraged and buoyant and the loser slinking back to the drawing board.
The Dubs began like a team who have been to grinds’ school over the winter. Their hurling was showing all the things it has lacked at crucial times in recent years. Aggression and variety. They went about their business humming and led by 1-6 to 0-4 after 13 minutes.
Conal Keaney, a dervish-like presence who appeared to be everywhere, scored a point and Liam Rushe added another before Waterford got their gloves laced.
Keaney already brings an entire new dimension to Dublin’s game. On 10 minutes he won some dirty ball and then fed Shane Ryan who played a clever lowish diagonal ball for Rushe to chase out to rather than to hang around for with his hand up. Rushe jabbed and hand-passed to the onrushing Declan O’Dwyer. Goal. So it went. Debutant Conor McCormack had a point and by the 30th minute all Dublin forwards and one midfielder had scored from play.
That was the good news. Richie Foley’s influence on the game would eclipse Keaney’s in the end and it began in earnest with a soft goal under a dropping ball towards half-time. That and a quick point sent Waterford into the dressingroom with just a four-point deficit.
The high ball undid Dublin again early after the break, however. They had conceded a run of points when Séamus Prendergast got his paw up over Tomás Brady and managed a second.
A third goal (Foley again) put Waterford in front: 3-10 to 1-14. And they added another three scores to create what looked likely to be a terminal gap of five points.
Dublin surged back, however, with Dotsie O’Callaghan finding a seam of form and 1-1. The game teetered on the edge of injury-time before Keaney burst through for an equalising point. Honours even. And nobody complaining. Regret and relief shared equally.
Afterwards two old comrades of the Banner stood like spin doctors massaging an election debate. Anthony Daly’s mood could have been anywhere from relieved to terminally depressed. He went with the theme of the day though. Take what you get.
“I’m not apologising to anybody for getting a draw. We could have been well clear at half-time, but a combination of things only had us four points ahead. There’s a bit of a wind there and we knew Waterford were always going to come back.
“We looked dead and buried, but they showed great character. We’re training very hard and hopefully that comes into it. They didn’t chuck it in and we got a break to get us back into it. We drove on and it could have gone either way at the end. A bit stretched, but fantastic to get the draw.”
Davy Fitzgerald played it even more optimistically. “We’re missing so-called 13 of our championship team so I’ll let ye judge that for yourselves. It’s some result for Waterford being honest about it. For the first 20 minutes, you’re probably right. I think the last 10 minutes we were there or thereabouts. They totally outmuscled us and hit us hard in the first half but they certainly didn’t do it in the second half.”
Daly conceded there were worries attached to Dublin’s odd ability to score 2-19 but go 26 minutes in the middle of the game without getting a score at all. “We played great hurling after that for 15 minutes. A draw’s a draw – we’ll go home happy enough and the drive to Clare will be easier than it was this time last year.”
They have Tipp and Jedward in Croke Park next week. “It’s a great one to look forward to. We’ll see how the wounded are next week – we’ll patch them up and see how they go. Tipp, obviously enough, won’t be happy with their start and they’ll be coming to get back on track.”
WATERFORD : A Power; D Fives, J Maher, N Connors; S Fives, M Walsh, J Nagle (0-1); S O’Sullivan, Philip Mahony; S Molumphy (0-1), R Foley (2-11, 1-0 pen, seven frees), Pádraig Mahony (0-2); S Casey (0-1), T Ryan, S Prendergast (1-0). Subs : W Hutchinson for J Maher (ht); E Murphy for T Ryan (58 mins), K McGrath for S Casey (64).
DUBLIN : G Maguire; S Hiney, T Brady, S Lambert; N Corcoran, P Kelly, S Durkin; J McCaffrey (0-1), S Ryan; C McCormack (0-1), C Keaney (0-10, 0-8 frees), L Rushe (0-2), D O’Callaghan (1-3), D O’Dwyer (1-1), P Carton (0-1). Subs : P Ryan for S Ryan (46 mins), L Ryan for D O’Dwyer (64 mins).
Referee: Diarmuid Kirwan (Cork).