McCaffrey insists Walsh Cup run can get Dubs up to speed
Saturday February 02 2013
CROKE Park and the first ‘Spring Series’ football extravaganza of the season is the focus of national attention but far from the madding crowd, Anthony Daly’s hurling Dubs play their first competitive match of 2013.
The venue is St Peregrine’s GAA club in Blakestown Road, near Clonsilla, and All-Ireland finalists Galway are the opposition in the Walsh Cup semi-final (2.0).
A switch from scheduled venue Parnell Park due to pitch conditions after the recent bad weather might not totally suit the Dubs, but the ground is familiar to them as most of the squad were involved in the annual ‘Blue Stars’ event in early January.
Galway have the advantage of a good work-out in the competition last week, with a 2-15 to 1-9 quarter-final win away to Carlow.
Ace marksman Joe Canning bagged 1-7 of his side’s total and Galway looked fast, strong and eager for the fray.
Dublin captain Johnny McCaffrey (pictured below) and his team-mates had a ‘false start’ to their season when last Friday week’s clash with UCD at Parnell Park was called off due to the state of the pitch 45 minutes before the start.
UCD could not re-fix the match due to their Fitzgibbon Cup commitments during the week, so the Dubs got a bye to play Galway in the last four.
Attitude and intent are the buzz words for Dublin this year after a disappointing 2012. Daly and Co had hoped to build on 2011, when they won the league and reached the All-Ireland semi-final, but instead relegation to Division 1B of the league and defeat to Clare in phase two of the qualifiers brought a dose of harsh reality to the Dubs.
The manager spoke recently about avoiding distractions and hype, and getting back to basics.
In that context, McCaffrey looks forward to the challenge presented by Galway as Anthony Cunningham seeks to drive the Tribesmen forward after their run to the final last year.
“The UCD situation was a bit of a disappointment, especially as we found out only about 40 minutes beforehand,” said McCaffrey. “We were all ready to go, so it was a bit of a disappointment not to get the game played but there was nothing we could do about it. The pitch was unplayable. But we got in a training session and we’re looking forward to playing Galway.
“We had a couple of decent friendlies but at this time of year you’re looking to get competitive games. We’ll definitely get a competitive game from Galway.
“They seem to have put out a strong team against Carlow last week. I’m sure they were happy to get through that. No doubt they’ll be putting their best foot forward and trying to beat us.”
A year ago Dublin went to Portlaoise and lost to Laois, ending their Walsh Cup involvement. Daly spoke about the attitude after that game when people were saying the Dubs were probably better off out of that competition, but it’s certainly not the case this week.
“You obviously want to win every game you play, and we seemed to be set up well before the game last year,” added McCaffrey.
“I remember it was a dirty wet day we had in Portlaoise and, to be fair, Laois were strong on the day and deservedly won.
“Yes, we probably had our eye a bit more on the league at that time, but we learned from that and we know we have to take every game as it comes and do our best to win.
“Win this week and you’re out the following weekend in a Walsh Cup final.
“The league is still a couple of weeks away and it’s great to be able to fill the gap by playing big games against good strong opposition.
“You want to try and get wins under your belt at this time of year to build momentum and build confidence.”
– Liam Kelly