Tuesday, August 06, 2013
It was a case of throw off the shackles and hurl, to see themselves as good as what’s out there.
Dublin selector and former Tipperary player Richie Stakelum believes the capital county has finally shed its “deep rooted” hurling inferiority complex.
That may not have been so evident early in the summer when they struggled to overcome Wexford, being held to a draw at Wexford Park.
In fact, Stakelum agreed with Ger Loughnane’s cutting analysis afterwards that a fearful and hesitant looking Dublin were guilty of playing “constipated hurling”.
But as they progressed through five consecutive weekends of provincial championship action, their hurling gradually improved, to the point they were confident enough to hammer holders Galway by 12 points in the final. Now they’re just one game away from a breakthrough All-Ireland final appearance and Stakelum insists they won’t be phased by semi-final opponents Cork’s rich tradition.
“I’m here in Dublin a long, long time, I know the quality of player we have,” said Stakelum.
“It was a case of throw off the shackles and hurl, to see themselves as good as what’s out there. I’ve always believed they are as good as what’s out there.
“It’s just the inhibition they had, that as a Dublin player you weren’t as good as the country teams. That’s a deep rooted thing. As a country player, I could never understand that. Like, I never thought anything else (negative) being from Tipp. So it’s deeply satisfying to see them finally throw off those shackles and play.”
Stakelum admitted that the management team has also made significant strides, particularly in the area of maintaining focus, which he admitted they didn’t do well after beating Kilkenny in the 2011 Allianz League final. That season ended with a creditable All-Ireland semi-final loss to Tipperary but was followed by a disastrous 2012 which yielded just a single competitive win all year, over Laois.
“We made mistakes, we lost focus,” he continued. “The focus was more about what was going on outside, focusing on an end goal, thinking we were going to win an All-Ireland, which was completely the wrong focus. I think we paid for that.
“We’ve matured within the team, we’ve matured within ourselves (as management). The focus now is on each performance, even on each training session, being the very best we can be.”
Still, Stakelum wasn’t so confident of such a long summer back in spring, as they struggled to put Limerick away in a Division 1B League final. He certainly wouldn’t have predicted they’d both end up as provincial winners.
“Highly unlikely I’d say, highly unlikely particularly from our perspective at half-time,” he added. “We were sinking and I have no problem saying that. We were fortunate to be still in that game at half-time. But Danny Sutcliffe kept us in it and Liam Rushe had a great game at centre-back. As the game went on, we got more confidence and carried the ball well. The movement of Danny Sutcliffe around the pitch that day was a huge factor.”
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