ALL-IRELAND SHC QUARTER-FINAL: DALO. THE messiah of Dublin hurling stands in a familiar place, but new feelings are rushing through his veins. Semple Stadium – his eyes dart around the dim corridors and he can probably see his Clare team-mates from yesteryear.
Written by Keith Duggan
Anthony Daly has hurled himself into the challenge of leading Dublin with the zeal and enthusiasm that marked out his days as Clare captain and now, having led Dublin hurling to a glorious place, he is sort of overcome by it all. He speaks fast and then slow and corrects himself and, perhaps for the first time in his life, the Clarecastle man seems lost for for words.
“It mightn’t have been a classic in terms of the quality, mightn’t have been savage. It was a dour struggle. Once Limerick brought (Graeme) Mulcahy back they seemed to get a grip on it and we had to try and counter that a couple of times. Alan (McCrabbe) just ran out of gas, he did an awful lot of running in the first half and, obviously, Brian Geary was replaced so he had done his job.
“We make a couple of changes there and we rode our luck a bit, but we missed a few and they missed a few as well. Them days are just there and you ride your luck a bit. We worked really hard all year so we’re not apologising to anyone for getting the luck.”
He shook his head when Conal Keaney, the latest Dublin hurler to be hit by injury, was mentioned. He confirmed, not only had Keaney been struck by a van, he had damaged his cruciate as a result. Keaney was due to be released from Santry Clinic last night.
Apart from his natural sympathy for the player, the accident left Daly with a headache in terms of his team selection.
“We had planned to go with Liam Rushe at centre back and Joey Boland at number five. Michael Carton came in and did a great job. I thought Rushey had a good game above. Joe (Boland) really came into the game towards the end. It took him a while to get going, but again he’s coming back from serious injury. It’s hard to put your thoughts on it now.
“He was outstanding, like. He really stepped up to the plate. You were all telling us we couldn’t get goals, but in fairness the Tipp man went in early on and they’ve been getting goals all year. It could be the making of him.
“His last point was an amazing point. Everybody played their part. Ryan wouldn’t have been through probably only the boys set him up a couple of times, especially the third one when Dotsy cut inside.
“It’s a team effort, but he had a great game today.”
O’Dwyer, meanwhile, was reflecting on the missing man. He was the last man out of the Dublin dressingroom, still wearing his Dublin shirt and bearing a tourniquet as he walked out among the fans underneath the Kinnane Stand and standing near a chip shop signing autographs for the fans.
Catching his breath, he said that Keaney had managed to send the team a video message before the game.
“Since the start of the year we were getting setbacks and setbacks like Keaney. He sent us that video which I think got us over the line at the end.”
That and a few crucial points.
Donal O’Grady, the Limerick manager, was magnanimous after the defeat, but knew that he had watched a decent opportunity of making it to the last four disappear.
“The more you win, the greedier you get. We were confident that we were going to win today and that we were going into the semi-final.
“The important thing is, I’m not saying we’d have won the All-Ireland, but the important thing was to get as many matches as we can for the group of players. There’s a lot of youngsters there and unfortunately we fell at the hurdle today that we needed to get by.
“There wasn’t much difference between the teams, but, let’s be honest, Dublin were short a few of their marquee names through injury. But, having said that, maybe there’s not that much difference between division one and division two.”