Anthony Daly struggled to hide his delight after his side ended Dublin’s 72-year wait for a League title at Croke Park on Sunday.
The Clare man, however, was wary of placing too much emphasis on beating Kilkenny by 12 points, clearly conscious that his team will from now on be subjected to the scrutiny and hype that attends hurling’s big sides.
And yet, Daly admitted the win would give his side the confidence to take their place amongst the best teams in the country.
“We would try and think that today would be a confidence day. Big days like today (bring) confidence and that’s what it’s about,” he said.
“We can play at the top level. We can play against Offaly and Kilkenny and Wexford, all the teams. We can play against them. Days like today help to show us that.”
Daly reflected on the contrast in emotions with their Championship exit last summer, when they lost by a point to Antrim in the All-Ireland Qualifiers.
“It isn’t too long since we were over in the Cusack Stand dressing rooms totally despondent, saying ‘where are we going?’ after training hard for two years. It looked like we weren’t going too far.
“In that sense it is satisfying but it is only the first of May. There is a lot to go.”
There was also satisfaction that his players did not let the big occasion get to them, hurling with the kind of freedom and confidence of seasoned veterans at this level.
“That was the big thing in the dressing room before hand was to come and play with a bit of freedom and don’t be getting caught up in occasions,” Daly added.
“Nobody knows better than me, going into big days with Clare. You are worried about tickets and parades and where will I bring the cup and all that.
“It is all about the 70 minutes and we finally realised that. We did play a bit nervously early on but it’s all about what happens when the ball is thrown in. Everything else is totally irrelevant.”
Ryan O’Dwyer, Dublin’s new recruit from Tipperary, expressed his delight and paid tribute to the Dublin supporters.
“It’s an amazing feeling. We are just totally chuffed,” he said.
[box]“You saw the excitement out there. The crowd really got behind us. They are the best crowd in the world, I’ll admit that. They are absolutely outstanding.[/box]
“If you could get them coming to every game, to get something going in the capital because it is badly needed for hurling to get that support behind us.
“You saw in the last few minutes there when they started shouting and we started playing. When you in the middle of the field it is a an amazing feeling to get that.”
Asked what Dublin could achieve this year, O’Dwyer said this was not the summit of their ambitions, but warned that Offaly will be gunning to take them down a peg or two when they meet in the Leinster GAA Championship on May 29.
“We’re aiming high. Today is the first of May. If you said we wanted to achieve everything we can by the first of May then we have done that,” he added.
“But we are not happy with that. We want to go further and achieve more. I have no doubt that there is still more in us but we have to be very wary. We have Offaly in four weeks’ time in Parnell.
“If we could get it in here (Croke Park) it would be great. But we have them in Parnell and they are going to be looking to knock us off our pedestal I have no doubt about that.
“We will enjoy tonight and we will maybe enjoy tomorrow but after that we are focusing on Offaly and that is what we have to do if we want to achieve.”
Article Source: gaa.ie