Capital gains as Dublin turn hurling world upside down
Big guns Kilkenny and Tipperary to meet in qualifiers
Dublin manager Anthony Daly is congratulated by his Kilkenny counterpart at the final whistle on Saturday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
For hurling to be democratic, Kilkenny must fall. This year’s championship was split wide open in O’Moore Park on Saturday night as we were transported back to the mid-1990s when every county felt like they had a chance.
Anthony Daly remembers that time only too well.
Next Sunday it is Dublin versus Galway in the Leinster final, while the previous night Kilkenny and Tipperary will be locked in a dance to the death in Nowlan Park.
“It’s great, you’ll have a full house there,” Daly quipped. “I might go along for a look.”
Something wasn’t simmering in Portlaoise. This was no shock. Dublin outhurled Kilkenny, to the tune of 1-16 to 0-16, and those paying close attention could see the champions are a shadow of their All-Ireland winning selves without Henry Shefflin.
Kilkenny gone in July. It seems like a ridiculous thought unless you saw them outhurled on consecutive weekends by Dublin. Of course, many didn’t see either game as they were not deemed worthy of live television (TV3 are now off to Nowlan Park).
“Ah, I mean, it’s not a worry at the moment,” said Brian Cody of fielding a side without the two previous hurlers of the year. “We can’t do anything about it so we won’t start looking at the negatives. Obviously it won’t be a physical preparation, it’ll be a mental preparation and that’ll be about it.”
Any chance of Shefflin or Fennelly togging out?
“Not a hope, no, not a hope.”
Daly did oversee Dublin’s league final victory in 2011 but they had not beaten Kilkenny in championship since 1942.
“Yeah, look, it’s great to beat Kilkenny in championship hurling,” said Daly. “I mean I’ve been close before with Clare and with these boys maybe. They’re a great team – they’re the best team I ever saw, so to beat them in any stage . . .
“I suppose ye’ll have them written off now and, d’ya know, ‘twas just that they’re tired and all that. But look, we can only just get ourselves ready for next weekend.”
Defending Leinster champions Galway await them on the wider surrounds of Croke Park.
Johnny McCaffrey has climbed the steps as an underage captain but now he is poised to be the first Dublin man since 1961 to lift the Bob O’Keeffe Cup.
“We’re in a Leinster final,” said Daly matter of factly. “When I came up here first, to win a Leinster championship would have been an absolute dream. So, the dream lives on, I suppose.”
Last summer brought the darkest days of his five-year term. An 18-point hammering by Kilkenny followed by a young Clare side ending Dublin’s interest. Daly looked a haunted man, standing barefoot outside the dressing room that night in Ennis of all places.
And now this.
“It’s monumental for us,” said Liam Rushe, the young centre back who dominated the Kilkenny forwards. “It was an abject defeat last year, we were so low after it you’d almost think of quitting.
“To go back to the same venue that we were massacred last year and come out with a win, gives it that bit of romance.”
Hurling is getting all romantic in 2013.