Board move to clear O’Carroll for hurlers
NEWS ROUND-UP: THE DUBLIN County Board have intervened in the tug of war involving dual footballer and hurler Rory O’Carroll, clearing the way for his involvement in this evening’s Leinster under-21 hurling final against Wexford at Parnell Park.
O’Carroll had been told by Dublin football manager Pat Gilroy not to play any part with the under-21 hurlers, and to save himself instead for Saturday’s All-Ireland senior football qualifier against Armagh.
That prompted Dublin hurling manager Anthony Daly – who also acts as an under-21 selector – to refer to that decision as “a joke”, that O’Carroll wouldn’t do himself any harm whatsoever playing with the hurlers; especially considering four other under-21s are also due to play with the Dublin senior hurlers on Saturday in their qualifier against Antrim which takes place before the senior footballers.
“At this point in time all I would say is discussions have taken place,” said Gerry Harrington, the Dublin county board chairman. “Although I wouldn’t like to comment any further than that.”
Given O’Carroll’s hugely influential role at centre back in helping Dublin beat Kilkenny in the Leinster under-21 hurling semi-final last month, it now appears inevitable he will again play some part this evening – either in the starting 15 or as a substitute.
He was a late addition to the team the last day and hasn’t actually been training regularly with the under-21 hurlers this season, but he’s potentially one of Dublin’s best defenders on the day.
Also, given the Leinster title is at stake this evening – and Dublin are looking to claim it for the second time in four years – there was always going to be pressure on the Dublin County Board to intervene in some way.
“It is a special occasion,” said Harrington, “in the sense we have already won the Leinster title in under-21 football, and indeed went on to win the All-Ireland.
“This under-21 hurling team played a fantastic game of hurling against Kilkenny, down in Nowlan Park, two weeks ago. So I suppose the big picture is opening up for them now and, in that regard, it would be great to see as many Dublin hurling supporters as possible in Parnell Park for this final. It will make a great occasion.
“But Wexford certainly won’t be easy opposition. No Wexford team is ever caught for style or passion or determination and I’ve no doubt this under-21 team will be no different.”
Fellow Kilmacud Crokes player Robert O’Loughlin had, in the meantime, been drafted in for O’Carroll into the reshuffled Dublin half-back line, although that may now change again.
But Daly’s strong criticism of Gilroy’s decision to refuse O’Carroll permission to line out with the under-21s appeared to create some potential tension between the two senior managers.
Harrington played down this potential tension, although the situation again illustrates the inevitable conflict of interests whenever dual players try to play both codes at senior level.
“There has been good co-operation on both sides,” added Harrington, “and I don’t think this will sour that in any way, no. As I said there have been discussions.”
Daly acts as a selector with Dublin Under-21 hurler manager Richard Stakelum, and didn’t hold back in his comments on Monday when word first emerged of Gilroy’s decision to keep O’Carroll for himself – as the former Clare All-Ireland winning captain compared the situation with soccer and rugby: “Look at how fellas last in the World Cup with matches every three or four days – how do they last on the Lions tour when they go and play twice a week? It’s rubbish.”
Whether O’Carroll starts with the hurlers in Parnell Park this evening, he will almost certainly be starting at full back with the senior footballers on Saturday as they take on Armagh in the third round of the All-Ireland football qualifiers – a far more daunting task for the beaten Leinster semi-finalists than last Saturday’s second round against Tipperary.
On that note, Harrington has called for a greater show of Dublin support than the 22,048 that showed up in Croke Park for last Saturday’s double-bill which also featured the Dublin senior hurlers beating Clare. “We would hope for a bigger show of support this Saturday, absolutely. But I suppose the day that was in it last Saturday, and the very wet conditions, probably turned quite a few people off. And probably the football supporters were always expecting us to beat Tipperary.
“But this weekend should be different in that Armagh are coming to town. I think it will make a great afternoon’s entertainment in Croke Park and I would like to ask all our supporters to turn out on Saturday for the footballers and the hurlers. And to be in Croke Park in plenty of time.”
Meanwhile, the Ulster Council have announced all seated tickets for Sunday’s football final between Tyrone and Monaghan in Clones are sold. There are a number of terrace tickets available from county boards and Ticketmaster.
Leinster Under-21 HC Final – Dublin v Wexford, Parnell Park, 7.30pm.