Danny Sutcliffe of Dublin and John O’Dwyer, Tipperary. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
BY CONOR MCKEON – 24 MARCH 2014 03:30 PM
SINCE Waterford beat Dublin in Walsh Park (on March 9), they’ve had their hides severely reddened by Clare (13 points) and Kilkenny (20 points).
Dublin, meanwhile, have beaten Kilkenny and yesterday, went hard at it with Tipperary in Thurles yet the fate-worse-than-death of another sombre spring wading through the murky hurling backwaters of Division 1B beckons if they fail to beat the Déise next weekend.
Such is the brittleness of existence at this altitude.
On the upside, they’re in far better form even if that’s largely irrelevant in the context of a one-off match with a team who had already lorded it over them this month.
And while an inconsistent spring in 2012 is often cited as the breeding ground for that summer’s calamity, Dublin’s actual defeat to Galway in the relegation match was the first clear and real sign something real was wrong within.
“Take it on the chin and get ready for next week because it is an even bigger game than a league quarter-final, to be honest,” agreed Anthony Daly.
“We have got to prepare ourselves. Waterford have beaten us already, so we have got to get the heads up and get ready for it.”
Very obviously, the emergence of Colm Cronin and Cian O’Callaghan have been the high points of this spring and clearly, both look able for Championship action if and when they are required.
Beating Clare and Kilkenny was no harm either, nor was the apparent rude health of the group.
And duly, Daly sounded an optimistic note alongside his symphony of realism yesterday.
“To tell you the truth, I am really looking forward to the championship after watching the way the boys could hurl out there,” he said, “because we haven’t that much ball work done.
“We have done a lot of trudging in O’Toole Park, in the dark, and a small bit in Bray on a Thursday night. But we will get better, our touch will get better and our handling will get better.
“This time last year they (Tipperary) were meant to be the team that were supposed to be winning the All-Ireland if Kilkenny didn’t win it, so I think we have an awful lot to look forward to and we will take the positives out of it.”
Still, a league quarter-final, rather than a relegation death match, would have been a far preferable weekend’s work but that’s the challenge now for Dublin.
“It is disappointing,” Daly admitted. “Fellas will have to lift the heads, but we will lift them. We have lifted them before and we’ll do it again.”