Dublin senior hurling captain Johnny McCaffrey is looking forward to playing against Wexford in a packed Parnell Park this Saturday (15th June).
The sides will meet for the second time in the space of 7 days after they couldn’t be separated last Saturday in Wexford Park. In hindsight, McCaffrey believes a draw was the fair result in the end.
“Yeah it probably was a fair result in the end” he said.
“Wexford looked like they were going to win the game with ten minutes to go, but we showed good character to come back and get a draw in the end. Definitely both teams are happy with the draw”.
Despite both teams scoring 1-17 each, there were many a missed opportunity, and McCaffrey knows that the bad form in front of the posts needs to be improved on if Dublin are to progress to the semi-final.
“I’m sure we’re going to have to take our chances”.
“We had a good few chances, especially in the second half, that we didn’t take, and they nearly came back and it could have been a big disappointment, so if we’re going to get the result on Saturday we’re going to have to make sure we take them chances”, he added.
The captain was quick to brush aside suggestions that the likes of Conal Keaney and Liam Rushe should be selected in the forwards, where they made their names as top hurlers.
“The team is picked by the management, and it’s up to them, they know what’s best for the team”.
“The two lads have played very well in the backs and are very strong hurlers, so we’re very happy with the position that they’re playing in, and if they’re picked to play in the backs that’s perfect with us”.
Matt, Johnny’s younger brother, was the vice-captain of the under-21 side that were beaten by Carlow in the Leinster championship on Tuesday night in Parnell Park. Johnny was at the game himself and described the loss as “very disappointing”.
“There would have been high hopes for the under-21 team to go well throughout the year, but fair play to Carlow, they stuck with it and deserved their victory in the end”.
Despite a handful of the players on the under-21 team being involved in the senior panel, McCaffrey doesn’t believe the loss will have a negative effect on the team ahead of Saturday’s game.
“I think it could have an opposite effect, I think it could drive the senior team on even more to make sure we put that out of the minds of people and get them talking about Dublin in a positive way again, and lads will be more determined to make sure we get the right result in the end”, he explained.
Reflecting on the campaign so far, the Lucan man believes playing in Division 1B of the National Hurling League was good to pick up some wins and boost confidence, but it does have a negative effect too.
“You’re just playing at a different level to the top teams, which can be hard sometimes to get up to that level again, so that’s what we’re trying to get to at the moment”, he said.
The reward for the winners of Saturday’s replay is a semi-final showdown with reigning All-Ireland champions Kilkenny, but McCaffrey insists Dublin are only focused on the Wexford clash.
“To be honest, we’re not really looking that far, we’re not looking past Saturday night. We have a match to contest against Wexford, so we’re just concentrating on them at the moment”.
Wexford manager Liam Dunne openly criticized the venue for the replay earlier this week, but the Dublin players are looking forward to playing a championship game in Donnycarney for a change.
“A lot of the lads have been talking about it and are really looking forward to it, we haven’t played a championship game in Parnell in 5 or 6 years at least at senior level”, said McCaffrey.
“We’re looking forward to the big crowd, hopefully a big Dublin support behind us; it could be the difference between winning and losing the game”.
When asked if playing in a full stadium, no matter what the size, would make you more nervous or motivated, McCaffrey replied; “Definitely it would motivate you more, these are the things you dream of when you were younger, playing in a packed stadium”.
“It will be a full house, Parnell Park is very enclosed, you can hear what everyone is saying and the atmosphere is extremely good when it’s full, so we’d much rather a full house in Parnell rather than maybe an echo in Croke Park”.
Friends of Dublin Hurling will be selling membership in Parnell Park on Saturday ahead of throw in which is at 7.00 PM.
-By Darragh Twomey