DUBLIN’S Peter Kelly will be avoiding the newspapers and sports bulletins between now and Sunday’s All-Ireland SHC quarter-final against Limerick.
Dublin hurling has received plenty of media attention in 2011, garnering the headlines after their Allianz League final win over Kilkenny and then suffering a dissection of their approach and tactics when losing to the Cats in the Leinster championship final.
Kelly knows that such exposure can be a dangerous thing. He explained: “Newspapers have to be sold, and if you start reading about yourself after a big win you might start believing you’re great, or after a big loss doubts can start creeping in. You have to distance yourself from all that and focus on the now.”
Kelly plies his trade at wing-forward for Lucan Sarsfields but will be positioned at full-back for Dublin on Sunday. Such a dual mandate makes him perfectly qualified to discuss the pace required to man the edge of the square.
He said: “I wouldn’t be slow and as a forward myself, being outpaced for a ball is a problem — the forward is supposed to be the fast one, getting to the ball first. But that’s the way defenders have become. It’s the new-style full-back play — the old full-back was primarily physical but that’s gone, it’s a new regime now.”
Not that he is a shrinking violet — far from it. And he will need all that power on Sunday to deal with Kevin Downes, presuming the Limerick full-forward recovers in time from his calf injury.
Downes is big, strong and has an eye for goal, becoming more and more of a force on the inter-county scene even if he is still a teenager.
Not that Kelly is intimidated by the prospect. “A couple of weeks ago I was on Eoin Larkin,” he points out recalling the Leinster final loss to Kilkenny. “Before that, in the Leinster semi-final, it was Joe Canning, and before that again, against Offaly it was Shane Dooley. I’m fairly used to the big names at this stage. I won’t be daunted anyway!”
Concentration, he says, is the most critical element of the game for a full-back.
“If you’re in dreamland, watching your forwards putting the ball over the bar, thinking ‘we’re going well’, two seconds later the ball could be in the back of your own net.”
Kelly also says that Dublin are back on track after their Leinster humbling at the hands of Kilkenny.
He said: “We’ve put it out of our system, I think we’re a lot stronger for it, learned from what we did wrong, and we’re fully focused now on Limerick.”
This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Tuesday, July 19, 2011