All Star Liam Rushe is hoping that some of those who jumped on the Dublin football bandwagon last summer will come out to support the county’s hurlers tomorrow when they take on Kilkenny in the Leinster SHC semi-final in Portlaoise.
“I would encourage people to come down to the game, there’s no excuse for them,” Rushe said. “It’s barely 45 minutes down to Portlaoise, you’d be longer going from Dalkey to Coolock!”
And he conceded that Anthony Daly’s side, with their lengthy casualty list a thing of the past, have no excuses either for not throwing down the gauntlet to the All-Ireland champions.
“We’ve almost a full panel to select from for the first time since I’ve been involved,” Rushe said.
“Preparations are going well and we’re in the situation where we’ve left ourselves no excuses.”
Last year’s Young Hurler of the Year only turned 22 this week but is already a fixture in the Dublin senior side, even if he’s not always sure where he’ll be playing.
His All Star was won at midfield last year but the fluent Irish speaker from St Pat’s Palmerstown confesses that it’s the uimhir 14 geansai for which he has a natural preference.
“I don’t mind, plans change and you’d be a fool to set out a game plan and then stick to it if it’s not going right. I understand being rotated around but last year it was more tumultuous than usual,” Rushe said, referring to how Daly was forced to constantly chop and change his side due to injuries.
“I was full-forward when I came on first, when we had a two-man full-forward line and got McCrabber (Alan) an All Star by working hard!” he joked.
“I still haven’t gotten thanks or any money for that.”
He’s taken an unmerciful slagging himself from his team-mates recently after RTE analyst Tomas Mulcahy, remarking on Dublin’s physicality, singled out his thighs for special mention, prompting Rushe to quip: “I’ll be wearing Under Armour shorts the next time.”
But his light-hearted side will be put to one side tomorrow night when the Dubs head back to the ground where they lost this year’s Division 1 relegation replay to Galway.
Rushe may come from a generation of Dublin hurlers who have beaten Kilkenny at underage level, but at senior level the Cats have only lost once in Leinster in the past 10 years.
“It’s daunting when you look at it,” Rushe said. “That (defeat) was a last-minute goal in ’04 for Wexford, and before that it was another four or five years.
“It’s an impressive record and it’s not for nothing that they have it. They’re a tight team defensively and they obviously have fantastic players.
“When you start saying that, it sounds like a really daunting task. We’ll just play it like the league and like we do most other teams.
“We’ll just go out and give it a lash like we did last year against Tipp.”
But he said Dublin won’t make the mistake of trying to be overly physical either with a team who manage to so brilliantly marry skill and strength.
“We probably over-emphasised the physical element and looked to get stuck in too much and forgot about playing the past few times we’ve played Kilkenny,” Rushe admitted.
– Cliona Foley