ANTHONY DALY sounds like a man who’s had his fingers burnt.
After speaking about being more interested in a performance than a result on Sunday, he warned: “I don’t want the f***ing ‘Dalo doesn’t care’ headline now please”.
But it’s a display he wants against Tipperary. Hurl with a lack of inhibition and the result might just look after itself.
Relating to the couple of changes he made to his backroom team this year, the Clarecastle man said: “In general, just a few changes we have made have worked out and so far, so good but, look, if we get the beating Waterford got it will take the icing off things.
“We want to go out and do ourselves justice. I don’t know what that means in terms of a result. I don’t care. I’m not results-orientated for this match, I’m performance-orientated and that’s the boys playing with abandon.”
Don’t get Daly wrong — he wants the victory but he’s also aware of what is put in front of his team.
And no, he’s not thinking that whatever happens in three days time it’s still been a great year for Dublin hurling.
He terms the season a success, yes, but only a relative one.
“Even for Limerick the last day, people were saying that they were happy now that they were in Division One again,” stated Daly.
“When I went down to the Limerick lads (in the dressing room) to say hard luck there was no-one drinking tea and saying we had a great year.
“Everyone was gutted in that room no more than they would have been gutted in our own (had Dublin lost).
“What do we want now? Do we want to come in and say we’re happy enough whatever way it goes. Because we’re not. We want to go out and do ourselves justice on the day.”
Daly might have been guilty of talking down Dublin a lot earlier in the year but he’s more balanced now. Like the famous Clare team he led, his team have earned enough respect now to stop being served with pundits’ platitudes.
“It doesn’t really bother me but you would notice that. When you win the league and are in an All-Ireland semi-final people have to start taking you some bit seriously. I know everybody is lining up a repeat of the last two finals and you can’t blame them for that — that seems to be the way the form is — but sure we’re thrilled to be where we are and we’re looking forward to having a real cut at the semi-final.”
One thing’s for certain — Dublin are going into the game with a lot less pressure on them than the quarter-final against Limerick and the Leinster final where they were coming up against a Kilkenny team they had humbled in the league decider.
“Yes and maybe there’s a little bit more pressure on Tipp because Kilkenny had a lot of aces in for the game after the league final,” agreed Daly.
“The points that flew over for Dublin in the end (of the league final) were lovely for the supporters on the Hill to be enjoying the Kilkenny lads saying, ‘By Jesus, there’ll be another day for these ones’.
“They had that and obviously then such ‘minute’ names as Henry, Tommy, Richie and Mickey Fennelly to come on board was a little bit of help as well! It was a different game on a different day but we still went for a pint together after the match and I didn’t think any of us felt we did ourselves justice.”
Daly is acutely aware of Dublin being in unchartered territory.
At times this season, he’s felt expectations on his players were too high.
“The last day people were saying ‘ye were nine ahead and ye didn’t bury Limerick’. That ‘ye were eight ahead of Offaly and didn’t bury them’.
“Jesus, where I came from Limerick and Offaly weren’t for burying any of those days. They weren’t lying down.
“Both of those counties would have stronger traditions than Dublin in the recent past and would have felt they were there with every bit of a chance. It didn’t surprise us that we didn’t drive on and win those games by cricket scores. Far be it from that, we were just thrilled to get the wins.”