DUBLIN hurling boss Anthony Daly is expected to stay on with the Sky Blues after getting the resounding backing of players, selectors and the county’s top official yesterday.
The charismatic Clare man was non-committal about his future after Sunday’s narrow loss to Tipperary, but he has the option of another year in charge as he is halfway through a second two-year term.
And the early soundings are that the two-time All-Ireland winner will find it very difficult to walk away after making such progress in his third year in charge.
“I would be hoping that he is not thinking of going anywhere,” said Dublin chairman Andy Kettle.
“There is the possibility of improving on it (this year’s progress) and I think even he himself would be interested in seeing it through,” added Kettle, who said Dublin will wait until after the All-Ireland final before sitting down with Daly to discuss his future.
Dublin selector Richie Stakelum has already acknowledged the enormous support for the former Banner star to remain at the helm.
“I’m not going to second guess Anthony with all the travelling he does from Kilrush to Dublin,” he said. “The road has improved dramatically but it’s still a massive toll.
“But I think that when you look at what we achieved this year, winning the league and the Walsh Cup, with only one really poor performance against Kilkenny (in the Leinster final), there would be a massive incentive to come back. I would be surprised if he’s not there but that’s his decision.”
Stakelum said his own future involvement will depend on the manager’s decision.
“It’s a package deal, different personalities who feed off each other. Whatever Anthony decides, he decides. If he goes on, I’ll go on. If he calls it quits, I’ll call it quits. While I’m confident that we’ll stay involved, that will come down to Anthony,” said Stakelum.
The fact that Dublin made such progress this summer despite losing a handful of key men to serious injuries — key men who will all be back next year — should provide further motivation for Daly to stay on for another year at least.
On top of that, there is another wave of encouraging hurling talent rapidly coming through.
Dublin’s U-21s face Antrim in an All-Ireland semi-final in Newry on Saturday (4.0) and their minors have already qualified for the All-Ireland final.
But Stakelum revealed that senior stars Stephen Hiney and Conal Keaney may not be seen again in Dublin colours until next May and that fellow cruciate knee ligament victim Tomas Brady will also undergo surgery on a shoulder injury in the coming days.
“It could well be May before you see them (Hiney and Keaney),” the former Tipperary player said. “I’m no medical man but of the three (knee) injuries, Stephen’s is the most serious. He ruptured every major ligament in the knee.”
Keaney suffered the same injury in a motorbike accident the day before Dublin played Limerick in the All-Ireland quarter-final.
“Conal was lucky that he wasn’t killed. But his injury is not quite as bad as Stephen’s,” Stakelum revealed, adding that Brady, who had his cruciate operated on three weeks ago, is going in for shoulder surgery today.
“What they put themselves through is incredible, but they’re intent on getting the surgery out of the way to be ready for next year,” said Stakelum.
Stakelum has backed his native county to go on and retain their All-Ireland title.
“I think Tipp will win it (the final) because of the way they got through,” he said of last Sunday’s less than convincing performance by the champions.
“Towards the end, some of their players were absolutely out on their feet.
“They realised that this was a really tough battle and that will stand to them in the final, even though an All-Ireland final against Kilkenny will take on a life of its own.”
– Cliona Foley