Richie Stakelum congratulates Dublin manager Anthony Daly after the Leinster SHC victory against Kilkenny
IF ONLY we could transcribe facial expressions and present them in paper format.
When asked about whether, having finally delivered the Bob O’Keeffe Cup to the capital after a 52-year absence, he might be capable of recruiting Liam MacCarthy to keep him company come September.
The grimace told its own story. Don’t get greedy, enjoy the good days when they come and leave me alone all wrapped into one.
He may not have been born a city boy but he is a Dub now and for all the success he has brought to Dublin he has had to endure some awful days along the way.
One journalist chose to remind him of a few of them individually – Antrim, Clare, Limerick, Kilkenny in Portlaoise.
Do they make this achievement all the sweeter? Of course they do.
“I’m very satisfied. I knew coming up the road in 2008 it wasn’t all going to be (good), we got beaten by 18 points in the Walsh Cup on the first day,” the delighted Clare man said. “But I knew I wasn’t coming to a place that had no chance. We had dark days alright, there’s no doubt about it. Driving around Fanore there after the Antrim defeat…
“We were in it for the days like today, the joy of it. It’s what I love doing. I’d love to be still playing, but I wouldn’t make it at the minute. Fitzy (DavyFitzgerald) is not giving me the heads up down there.”
Full-back Peter Kelly spoke of relief being the overriding emotion in the dressing-room.
“We have won some underage silverware coming up but we never really transferred that to senior,” he said. “So it’s a great relief for a lot of lads out there to have some senior silverware. Since 2011, we won that league and people thought we would kick on from that and we didn’t, so it’s great to get something out of this year.”
Dublin are, according to losing manager Anthony Cunningham, the most progressive team in the country. They’ve beaten Wexford, Kilkenny and Galway and in five weeks have transformed Leinster hurling.
The Hill wasn’t full, but it made plenty of noise regardless. The city has new heroes and with that adoration comes expectation.
“You can’t be thinking about trophies, we didn’t think about trophies today, we concentrated on the performance. We’ll have to try and get that again for the semi-final,” Daly said. “I’m not going to talk about All-Irelands, I’m going to enjoy this and take a few days.”
Those fans who drifted over from the football would have recognised their old hero Conal Keaney, whose outstanding display got Dublin through their difficult moments and his fellow half-forward Danny Sutcliffe paid tribute to the man who returned to hurling.
“Like the lads on the Hill there, as a child I was watching him the whole time playing football and for him to come back and basically carry us there in the second half – I’m delighted for him,” he said.
“You nearly sometimes are a spectator there when he was just pulling the balls out of the sky. You know yourselves, 2011 he came off the bike and the rehab, the work he did to get back the following year and that wasn’t a great year… and to come back again I can’t speak highly enough of him.”
For Cunningham and Galway, it was back to the drawing board after a day that exposed their lack of hurling this summer. They were on the other side of the result this time last season and saw the team they beat come back to haunt them in September, and the manager was keen to remind his players of that.
“We have a bit of catching up to do on Dublin but we’re not out of the championship yet,” he said. “They showed fantastic skill, fantastic fitness levels and fantastic strength and they were the clear winners.
“As we reminded Dublin there after congratulating them, we are still only one step behind them now and it is do or die the next day.”
RUAIDHRI O’CONNOR – Evening Herald