The big guns are back for Kilkenny while Dublin have lost a few of their brigade so Anthony Daly expects a tough battle, writes GAVIN CUMMISKEY
THERE WAS a moment in the National Hurling League final when those long suffering Dublin hurling disciples could finally exhale in joy.
It came in the 73rd minute when Cuala’s David Treacy produced hurling’s version of the Cruyff turn before pointing from near the sideline to make it 0-18 to 1-7.
Another four points rained down on a delirious Hill 16 before the finish as the stunned local support celebrated the utter dismantling of Kilkenny in Croke Park, of all places.
A Kilkenny team, mind, without Henry Shefflin, Tommy Walsh, Richie Power, Michael Fennelly and goalkeeper PJ Ryan.
The tables have turned for this Sunday’s Leinster final as, arguably, Brian Cody’s most influential quintet are poised to return as they seek to retain the provincial title.
Treacy, meanwhile, joins a growing list of wounded Dublin hurlers.
“Ah, he’s out with a grade two (hamstring) tear,” said Anthony Daly yesterday. “Initially it would be five weeks and while he is ahead of himself in recovery he won’t be ready for Sunday.”
Daly’s increasingly important Tipperary-born recruit Ryan O’Dwyer is suspended, while Treacy is joined by Tomás Brady and Stephen Hiney (both knee injuries) along with Rory Trainer. Maurice O’Brien is also trying to shake off an ankle problem.
Factor in the look of disgust on the Kilkenny men’s faces as they watched Johnny McCaffrey lift the league title last April, as he did the Walsh Cup also at their expense back in February, and Daly knows only too well what is coming down the tracks.
“Yeah, they have the boys back and we have lost a few so . . . Ah, we have plenty of faith in the boys that come in. It is looking good for Joey Boland after a few training sessions.”
Boland’s return to centre back – he damaged his shoulder in the league final – seems vital considering Brady’s loss at fullback, when he twisted his knee tracking Joe Canning en route to his goal for Galway on June 18th in Tullamore.
“We have parked the league,” Daly continues. “Kilkenny seemed to use it to find a few lads, like we did last year, and take whatever comes from it but they finished top of the group! We played better on the day in the league final and we were really ready for it.
“For them, that group of hurlers, they will be going all out to win another All-Ireland, just to prove, okay, they didn’t win the five in a row.
“Not that I think there is any records that need to be set straight by them. They are the best I’ve ever seen.
“We’ll just try and come back in after the game on Sunday, look at ourselves, and say we gave it absolutely everything.”
Dublin have unquestionably been the most captivating story of the hurling season so far but the 0-19 to 2-7 defeat of Galway would have had a different complexion if Canning hadn’t registered an inexplicable eight wides.
“They were less accurate than we were with the chances but every game is different as the flow goes on. A couple of the frees Paul Ryan got near the end, he could have gone for a goal.
“We were five or six head so the obvious thing to do was tap it over and keep the scoreboard ticking over. You can only play the game as it comes at you on the day. In terms of turnovers, puck outs and that, we were very happy with the stats.”
The challenge now for Dublin is matching their own expectations. Daly admits that back in January to retain their Division One status, beat Offaly and pull off a coup in the qualifiers would have stood as a good campaign but the league title changed all that.
The noises coming from the within camp this week are of a desire to beat a full-strength Kilkenny when it really matters.
“We’ve gone from strength to strength and a belief has surged through the team all year.
“The way other lads have stepped up to the plate has been fantastic. The likes of Paul Ryan, Darragh Plunkett and Conor McCormack coming in off club hurling.
“But all that counts is what happens for that hour and a half after four o’clock on Sunday.”
Ahead of the game
DURING his term at the helm of the Dublin hurlers, no one can accuse Anthony Daly of getting too far ahead of himself, writes Noel O’Reilly.
With that in mind, it is safe the say he will have been mildly surprised to see a press release issued on his behalf inviting supporters to a reception at a Dublin bar to celebrate Sunday’s Leinster final.
The Dublin panel is due to be in attendance after Sunday’s showdown with Kilkenny where Daly is “looking forward to celebrating what hopefully will be a great occasion for us”.
Win or lose at Croke Park, the event will go ahead as planned but a subsequent apology from the PR firm organising the event suggests the timing of the release was not met with universal approval.
“Following contact from the sporting authorities connected with Sunday’s Leinster hurling final, it seems that Dandelion Bar inappropriately made a press announcement regarding a post-match reception,” read the statement.
Article Source: IrishTimes.com