Skipper Sutcliffe is delighted to be leading Dubs back to Croke Park
DUBLIN’S minor hurling captain, Danny Sutcliffe, plays with a swagger. He’s like a lighthouse in the centre half-back position.
He sees danger before it happens. He’s quick to plug the gaps and he’s a sweet striker of the sliotar.
Early in the second half of Dublin’s ESB All-Ireland MHC quarter-final win against Antrim in Crossmaglen on Saturday, Danny plucked a treat from the selection box.
Antrim’s Daniel McCloskey was setting himself up for a point. It looked a certainty. But Danny, with Rolex timing, got in the perfect block.
He plays hurling with a smile. St Jude’s is his club. He looks a genuine Dublin diamond.
He had two accomplished hurlers alongside him in the half-back unit, Cillian Moffat, who landed three excellent long-range points from the placed ball, and Ben Quinn, who ticked one over from play.
Danny is well able for the banter. Asked on Saturday had he any role models in hurling, Danny responded.
“That would have to be Cormac Costello, especially after his two goals. He really did the job for us.
“He’s still under-16. He’s such a super hurler. I’ll be watching him closely in training in the next few Danny was chatting outside the Dublin dressing-room. Behind him was a happy place.
“It was good to get back on the road after the Leinster final. It’s great to have got that Kilkenny game out of our system.
“It was important to bounce back following that defeat to Kilkenny. After we beat Wexford we were confident enough, but we got blown out of Croke Park after 20 minutes,” added the St Jude’s lad.
Danny added that the Dubs made the best use of the extra man — Antrim had full-back Mathew Donnelly red-carded in the opening half.
“We were able to find more space after the sending off. Overall, I felt it was a good display.
“Weather-wise, it wasn’t the best. The grass was a bit long and it was a wet ball, so we are just pleased to have come out on the right side of the scoreboard.
“We don’t know a lot about Clare. We won’t worry about them too much. We’ll focus on what we can do,” added the St Jude’s lad looking ahead to the Dubs’ All-Ireland semi-final date in Croke Park on Sunday, August 15
“We put in the work and we got the goals against Antrim. We are delighted that we’ll be going back in Croke Park next month.”
It’s a stage that Danny could be seeing quite a lot of in the years to come.
And in time, many a young hurler will be endeavouring to emulate his distinguished deeds.
“We were not brilliant by any means. Yet I thought we could have won by more. We missed a lot of chances,” mused Dublin manager, John Murphy.
“And, as we did against Carlow, we conceded a soft goal, which put pressure on ourselves.
“But it was good to see how the lads reacted to that. The Carlow game taught them that they had the ability to come back after letting in an early goal.
“Hopefully, we’ll have learned from that Kilkenny game. We’ll give it our best shot,” added Crumlin clubman Murphy.
“Any team that comes out of Munster are sure to be a serious challenge,” added the Dublin boss.
“The lads coped well. They reacted well to Antrim being reduced to 14 men.
“It allowed us to shore up our defence and keep the threat of a goal away.
“In fairness, the conditions weren’t the best. The grass was very heavy. It was more like a football pitch. We, like Antrim, would have preferred a lighter sod.
“It was also wet and damp. The weather has been so good that we haven’t been playing in those conditions an awful lot.
“I think looking back that after the first 15 minutes we were fairly dominant.
“We were happy with a fair bit of our forward play.
“You are talking about minors. They go out and they do what they can.
“A lot of senior games wouldn’t be brilliant in those conditions either,” concluded Murphy.
– Niall Scully