Denis Bastick knows making a mark from the bench matters for Dublin
Midfielder has lost his place, showing the strength of Jim Gavin’s panel
Denis Bastick: “The 15 that finish have a real responsibility to drive on.” Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Behind all the talk of the strength and depth of Jim Gavin’s Dublin football panel lies the deeply personal desire to actually make that starting 15, and nowhere is this more evident than in Denis Bastick.
Bastick started all of Dublin’s championship games last summer, their first choice midfielder, as he was for their All-Ireland winning run of 2011, with a consistency of performance to support it. But he didn’t make the starting team for the quarter-final win over Westmeath, and unless Gavin totally shakes things up for Sunday’s semi-final against Kildare then he’ll be starting on the bench again.
“Sure, every player wants to play,” he says, “so it’s frustrating for every player who isn’t starting in that team. But I don’t think you can look at it in that sense, or work yourself up in frustration. You’re there to be a part of the team, you’ve a part on the panel, with a role to play. So you need to be ready for whatever amount of minutes or whatever jobs you have to do.
“Whilst you want to play it’s very important to keep your head clear and focused if you’re not starting. Jim, we know, likes to empty the bench, and it gives you a boost on the sideline knowing that there are going to be five subs coming on. It gives you a good chance to come in, get some game time and try to perform well.
“And definitely the 15 that finish have a real responsibility to drive on. You saw that from the league final. Fellahs who came on made a real difference and won the game for us. That’s very important for the rest of the year.”
Push down the queue
Bastick is not shy of identifying one of the reasons why he’s lost out on a starting place (while acknowledging too the new of role Cian O’Sullivan, alongside Michael Darragh Macauley) – he was red-carded when Dublin lost out to Kildare in the O’Byrne Cup, and that did, he admits, push him down the queue.
“Most definitely, yeah. I mean I had to sit out four weeks. Then I missed the first two league games. So I’ve had plenty of time to look back and think about it, but I’m looking to rectify that throughout the year.
“I feel I’m physically in good shape, I just have to keep myself right and ready, whether that’s coming in off the bench or starting. These games now are 20-man games so you have a very important role if you’re on that bench, coming in to do a job.”
Given he is likely to feature against Kildare on Sunday, Bastick is finely tuned in to the sort of performance Dublin will require, despite being so heavily fancied to progress.
“Looking back over the last few years, Kildare have been our toughest opponents within Leinster. If you go into a game not thinking like that you’re leaving yourself open for a big fall. I think it’s a fresh start. They’ve brought in under-21 players, have really bedded down their style of play.”