IT’S BEEN a busy week for Liam Rushe but don’t expect him to be too flustered by it all.
Last Wednesday, the Palmerstown man created a piece of Irish broadcasting history when he became the first GAA player to be the subject of ‘Player Cam’ during Dublin’s Leinster Under-21 final with Wexford in Wexford Park.
Did it create extra pressure or draw unwarranted attention onto himself? Not a chance.
Helpfully, Rushe made sure they had something to look at by putting in a nerveless Man of The Match performance to claim his second provincial medal at the grade in successive years.
The match being on TG4, the gong he was actually awarded was ‘Laoch na hImeartha’ for outstanding contribution to centre-back play rather than a Man of the Match award and while they might amount to the same thing, the bit lost in translation actually befitted Rushe’s tour the force.
Translated directly, the Irish word laoch actually means ‘hero’ or ‘warrior’ and given the 60-minute display Rushe had put in, you couldn’t but argue his gong was deserved in the most literal sense.
Now, he is preparing for Limerick and an All- Ireland quarter-final, one which brings back all the memories of two years ago when Dublin found themselves in an identical position.
We say identical but really, the venue, the colour of the opposition’s jerseys and the prize are the only similarities.
From a Dublin perspective, everything else has moved on.
“I would like to see how many starters we have from that day now,” Rushe muses. ”Probably only five or six from that team. It’s been a massive turn around.
“I didn’t realise then how young we were. I was just gone 19. The same with Peter Kelly and Gougher and people like that.
“We’re two years older and we had the experience of last year so hopefully, we won’t make the same mistakes of two years ago.”
A new team like Dublin tend to have to run their own gauntlet in that regard. The lessons are hard but they must be learned and that day representing a real schooling for the present bunch.
“We just didn’t kick on,” Rushe admits. “We let them back into the game. We were up by six points early in the game. We just let them claw us back. When you get a lead, you have got to hold it.
“Like Kilkenny did to us the other week. They got a lead and they kept us at arm’s length. You have really got to attack a lead at this level. If you don’t and they claw their way back in, they have got the momentum all of a sudden. You have just got to put matches to bed.”
Last Saturday, Dublin went to Thurles and played a bit of a match on the Semple Stadium pitch for two hours. No stone left unturned.
It was said after they were beaten in 2009 that their lack of gametime in hurling’s spiritual home and Limerick’s apparent comfort there were contributory factors.
Rushe, typically, doesn’t see it that way.
“We’ve played in Thurles a good few times at this stage now,” he says. “We had a massive support down there. It wasn’t like it was a hostile venue or anything like that. It was just a bit of inexperience.
“We just started going for goals and doing stupid things. We started launching balls into a two-man full-forward line when they had Stephen Lucey floating around in front of them. We didn’t play the match properly. It’s just that bit of inexperience.”
The same affliction which Kilkenny so ruthlessly exposed in the Leinster final a couple of weeks back?
“We analysed it and we know what went wrong,” Rushe replies. “We just watched them. We gave them a yard. We gave them the ball first and then we tried to take it off them. You just can’t do that against this Kilkenny side. They were gone. They ran rings around us and that was that. But we’ll know not let that happen again.
“We’ll have a few players back. It was a bit false that way.
“We were down a few lads who will be back for the next day. There will be a bit of a change around. But nothing too specific. To be honest, we just fell flat on the day.
“It was all over the place. It was one to 15 and we just weren’t great. That’s that. You move on. It’s hard to even analyse a game like that. For some reason, we were off. It happened. It’s over. You just get back up on the horse.”
Last Tuesday week, the Dublin players met in DCU and thrashed out a few things amongst themselves. The upshot of the meeting was they decided en masse that their season wasn’t going to be derailed by one bad day at the office.
Limerick in Thurles. Depending on how you look at it, it’s either the slippiest banana skin or the most ideal opportunity for redemption. “It’s a massive opportunity,” Rushe stresses.
“It will be a huge challenge. They had a comprehensive win over Antrim. They did a lot better against them than we did last year.
“They’re organised and that’s half the battle. As well as that, they play a different sort of hurling this year and that’s something that we won’t have come across this season. But we look forward to these challenges,” he concludes.
– Conor McKeon – Evening Herald