Daly accepts exit of code breakers
NEWS ROUND-UP:DUBLIN HURLING manager Anthony Daly accepts that the lure of county football is an occupational frustration in maintaining the hurlers’ challenge but believes that the county remains on track for a breakthrough.
He was speaking in a week which saw his team lose Tomás Brady to the Dublin footballers just weeks after his trainer Martin Kennedy had also thrown in his lot with Jim Gavin’s panel.
“I suppose it is,” he said when asked was it not frustrating to see traffic between the codes. “A while back Martin Kennedy was on board with us for another year and Tomás Brady would have been one of the key players on the team. Six weeks on and they’re both gone. That’s the way of the world. It’s an amateur game and there’s no contract tying anyone down.”
Daly, who has been appointed for a fifth year with Dublin, said that he has had largely good relations with his football counterpart.
“I don’t really know Jim Gavin but I got on well with Pat Gilroy apart from a bit of a row over Rory O’Carroll playing under-21. After that we were fine! It’s like Andy Kettle (county chair) was saying: no-one owns the Dublin GAA and people are free to move around.
“It’s the nature of the GAA and the same with Cork, who’d love to have Aidan Walsh hurling with them.”
He added that whereas the loss of Brady was substantial, the team had to learn to cope without him for a full year because of serious knee injuries. He had returned to full fitness this summer in time for a most disappointing championship campaign, which ended in defeat by Clare last July.
Brady has been having a good season with Na Fianna’s footballers and in the past has played Sigerson Cup with UCD. According to Daly it’s a challenge that the player wants to meet.
“Tomás would like to have a go at football and feels if he doesn’t do it now, he’ll never do it. I was awful disappointed but wished him the best. The only consolation is that because of his injury problems we’ve had to manage without him for quite a bit but we’d been looking forward to having him fully fit for the whole of next season.”
Despite the immense progress that hurling has made in the county – three underage All-Ireland finals in the past two years, the 2011 national league title followed by an All-Ireland semi-final – there is a sense that the game remains fragile in a county with a far stronger tradition in football.
“Look you’ve the glamour of football and the crowds,” says Daly. “Even when we won the league and got to the Leinster final we weren’t getting that. Young lads will be swayed by that.”
The manager is still upbeat believing that if the county continues to knock at the door it will eventually be admitted. The message is essentially not to panic or get distracted from all of the good work that has been done over the past decade.
“When I meet Friends of Dublin Hurling I’d say let’s keep working at this and keep producing quality players and it’ll come. It’s nearly happened at underage and you’re producing fellas like Liam Rushe, Peter Kelly, Paul Schutte – Danny Sutcliffe was nominated for an All Star. Hopefully there’ll be more.”
A playing career that included the peaks of captaining Clare – who had waited even longer than Dublin are currently – to two All-Irelands in 1995 and ’97 has equipped Daly with a keen understanding of what’s missing.
“Confidence. I’d say we had our best club team (Clarecastle) in 1994 but weren’t as confident. Once the county won the All-Ireland it was different and we won Munster. I’ve often said that when I got on the Harty (Munster colleges) team in Flannan’s I expected to win it but when I pulled on a Clare minor jersey against Cork – despite us beating three Cork colleges – I didn’t feel it was going to happen.
“I remember when we were coming through, we were the first Clare team to get to three successive Munster finals but we were seen as jokers. We stuck with it and stuck with it and got our day and once we’d got our day we were different blokes.
“Fellas have been on to me and can’t wait to get back. I heard Joe Canning talking about how Galway had come on this year but that there’d be a lot of teams waiting for them next year. He mentioned Limerick and Clare and Waterford but there was no Dublin. Eaten bread is soon forgotten!”