Peter Kelly has learned the hard way the Dublin can’t get ahead of themselves
They watched last year’s Leinster final in the pub but the build-up this time has been ideal
A dejected Peter Kelly of Dublin after his sidee’s NHL semi-final defeat to Tipperary this year. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
It was this weekend last year when the last stones in the avalanche came falling down on Dublin’s heads. After the first wave had hit a fortnight earlier when Kilkenny left them prone and fighting for air, Clare didn’t need to bring much extra to smother them. First Saturday in July and they were gone. Only Laois, Westmeath, Antrim and Carlow preceded them to the graveyard.
The wake was nearly worse. On the Sunday they came together and said goodbye to the summer the way every beaten team does. A few stools, a few tables, a few beers. What was different about this though was the Leinster final that was going on above on the TV. Galway as water cannon, Kilkenny washed clean away. If they thought they were nowhere before, confirmation didn’t exactly come soft-peddled.
So now that they’re here, the last thing on their mind is bellyaching. Five games in five weeks gives them ample room for excuses if it doesn’t work out against Galway tomorrow but the very idea doesn’t compute.
Peter Kelly sits down in the corner of a Dawson Street coffee shop, any suggestion of tiredness laughed off from the outset. They spent other years buckled under the weight of injury crises but not this time. For the fifth week in a row, Anthony Daly’s larder is fully-stocked. Fresh ingredients wherever his eye falls.
“Look, it’s brilliant,” says Kelly. “It’s nearly like being a Premier League footballer. You’re playing every week and you’re training once or twice and aiming everything at it and getting straight back into it. We found out last year that championship can be over very quickly.
“And we’re able to appreciate it because of the disappointment of last year. We played three games and our summer was over just like that. It was over before the Leinster final was even played. We watched the Leinster final in the pub. That’s some difference in a year and that’s why everyone is arriving at training with a smile on their face.”
Kelly has landmark status in Dublin’s full-back line, a high-catching Eiffel who looks like he will own the number three jersey for as long as he stands upright. In his original incarnation though, he was a forward. After initially making a breakthrough out of minor in Tommy Naughton’s last year, he had struggled to catch Anthony Daly’s eye.
But a league game against Tipperary on the last day of February in 2010 changed everything. He played wing-forward alongside Liam Rushe and Shane Durkin – both of whom would be repatriated in time as well – and between the three of them they delivered five points from play in a nine-point win. Kelly crowned the day with its stand-out score, a lovely point off his stick on the run after catching a puck-out.