Peter Kelly: The Dubs players must lead the way now
Conor McKeon – 24 December 2014 03:00 AM
THERE’S a couple of sparky passages in Anthony Daly’s eponymous tome, Dalo, where the inability to locate a permanent and suitable training home for his team leads him to conclude that “Dublin hurling has got to stand up for itself more”.
“To demand the best for Dublin hurling as an entity, as a thriving culture,” the Clareman wrote.
“In that organic system, a pervasive and continuous culture of winning will grow stronger all the time.
“You risk falling out with people but you have to challenge that natural order if you want to improve.”
Nomads no more, the Dublin hurlers have, just as Daly left town, taken up residency in DCU, the Northside college which also gives a home to the county’s footballers.
“It was something we’ve been trying to sort out for the past few years,” admits Daly’s former full-back of choice and 2013 All Star, Peter Kelly.
“It was probably a frustration point for the hurlers over the past few years, going from Bray to Parnell to O’Toole Park…not knowing where you’re training on a Tuesday after training on a Monday.
“It’s a great setup in DCU. Everything’s there; gym, pitches, astroturf, food facilities, meeting facilities – it’s ideal.
“It’s the continuity thing again. You can just get settled there. It’s relief, to be honest. Most other counties have it and now we do as well.”
Did it bug the squad as very clearly as it irked Daly? “It was probably a source of frustration at the start of the year,” Kelly says, “but then when you get into the year you don’t really mind because you’ve a match coming up so you’re not really going to be giving out about a pitch.
“So once you have a decent pitch, decent facilities and a good dressing-room, you’re going to be happy enough.
“But only when you see the set up in DCU do you realise the benefits of having it. And I think you’ll see that, hopefully, in our play.”
New home. New manager.
And if the embryonic stages of Ger Cunningham’s reign have been impressive, we’re still a long way from seeing what the Corkman’s reflection looks like on the team.
Training base? Check. Strong management team? Check.
For the moment though, that’s all that can be read into the new regime.
“I suppose it’s hard to judge at the moment because there’s no need for management at this time of year,” says Kelly of the early interaction with Cunningham.
“You run around the pitch and leave the hurls on the sideline.
“But the next few months will be interesting. We’re enjoying it so far.
“We’ve only been in the dressing-room with him a few times and he’s a very good presence.
“That’s all you want. Lads listen to him and look up to him. So we’re looking forward to the next few months and the year ahead.”
What anyone who has ever met the two men will know, however, is that Daly and Cunningham are, at surface level anyway, very different men.
How that translates into management styles, Kelly isn’t exactly sure yet.
“Daly was all fire and brimstone, the way he went at it,” explains the Lucan Sarsfields man.
“He was a motivator. A leader. He was looked up to. He was the one in the dressing-room who led the charge.
“Whereas I suppose for the first few weeks with Ger, he kind of lets the players do the talking and lets the players come to the fore and he’s more of a calming influence, so very different. But both have their qualities, I suppose. It’s early days yet. But you can see the kind of style he wants to bring to it. He wants to bring a team game, high intensity – the way hurling is going nowadays.
“There’s no point pucking the ball into the full-forward line trying to get a goal. It’s more keeping possession and that’s probably the style he wants to be bring. But there wouldn’t be very much style at this time of the year. Come the summer you might see something different.”
Kelly, 25, is tipped to be one of the team’s leaders during Cunningham’s tenure and with Stephen Hiney now retired, he acknowledges a certain void has been left inside the parameters of the squad.
“It’s time for the players now to stand up,” Kelly insisted.
“The management … it’s great that it’s sorted. But I think it’s time now for the players to stand up and put the manager aside.
“To be honest, if Ger has nothing to say in the dressing-room, that’s probably the best thing. The fact that the players can take over and lead from there.
“Hiney was a huge loss,” Kelly concluded. “But I think it will probably show in the coming months that players can step up and fill that void.”
Dublin senior hurlers will face the Dublin Bus/Herald Dubs Stars on New Year’s Day in Chanel, Parnell’s GAA club, Coolock (12.30).
Jim Gavin’s Dublin footballers face the Dubs Stars afterwards (2.0).
3Match tickets for the Dublin GAA Spring Series 2015 and all Dublin League fixtures are now on sale through the following link: www.dublingaa.ie/tickets
Price details – Three Match Package (Dublin v Donegal (F); Dublin v Cork (H); Dulbin v Tyrone (F); Dublin v Derry (F): Adults: €30 – Stand & Terrace; Juveniles: €10 – Stand only; Single Game: Adults: €10 – Stand & Terrace; Juveniles: €5 – Stand only.