Rushe braced for upcoming Wexford challenge
After league semi-final hiding by Tipp, Dublin centre-back says Anthony Daly’s side now fully focused on championship opener
Liam Rushe: “It’s better to fall on our faces at the end of April than to do it at the start of July, like we did last year.”
It’s been a chastening 12 months for Dublin hurling. League winners in 2011 and having held their own against Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final, they followed that up by being relegated to the dreaded Division 1B.
A heavy defeat to Kilkenny in the Leinster championship before premature removal from the qualifiers by a young Clare outfit has them entering the 2013 summer miles back down the pecking order.
This season they regrouped, winning Division 1B only for a dose of reality to rattle their bones once again in the league semi-final against Tipperary.
“We were on top of the world there on the Saturday night after beating Limerick, we achieved our goal, promotion, after getting relegated last year,” says Liam Rushe, a maturing and versatile central cog in Anthony Daly’s attempted revolution.
“And then, two weeks later, I suppose Tipp just showed the gulf that’s there between Division 1A and 1B. They had five or six seriously competitive games in the year, and we probably only had one or two – and I think it just told on the day.
“Competitive games like that, at speed, do bring you on. When you’re just relying on training games and stuff like that, it’s a bit tough. Hopefully now, come championship, we’ll have narrowed it again. Just have the skills up to scratch.
“Looking back on the video, we did look tired, we were second to every ball. We won’t put it all down as tiredness; there were a lot of missed touches and dropped balls and stuff like that as well. I just don’t think we were up to the pace that day; or maybe we weren’t quite up to the pace at all yet.”
As what happens every summer, this is the last chance for the league structures debate to rear its head before the championship wave comes crashing in.
“Yeah, I’d probably side with Davy Fitz. Scrap the Walsh Cups and the Waterford Crystals – there’s just no benefit in them really at all. They’re rolling into Fitzgibbon Cups and just creating fixture congestion really, at the start of the year. He wants 10 teams, 10 teams is probably too many, but eight teams would probably be grand.”
The fear is Dublin will be too scarred by the Tipperary defeat to recover in time for a testing trip to Wexford Park on June 8th.
“It’s better to fall on our faces at the end of April than to do it at the start of July, like we did last year,” said Rushe.
“A bit of a wake-up call. It was plain-sailing up until then. We’d won the Walsh Cup and 1B – although 1B was tight enough. . . We were embarrassed really, walking off the pitch. We were humiliated and nobody wanted to go training at all that week, so maybe it’s good to get a kick in the arse before championship starts.
“Wexford have certainly got their house in order. In the past year or two, with Liam Dunne in charge, they’re probably a younger side than they have been in the past few years and they’re definitely going to be organised.
“And going down there, there’s going to be a massive partisan crowd and they’ll be looking to get behind them, any chance they can get, so we’ll just be looking to impose ourselves on the game. Just be focussing on ourselves as much as we can, and hopefully that will be enough on the day.”
A forward when he first burst onto the scene as a teenager, now 22, Rushe looks primed for a long stint at centre back. Really though, a spell in any one position is preferable now.
“It would be nice to nail down a spot. The skills are general but you do need a bit of specific training to play somewhere. To get in the right mindset.
“Against Tipperary . . . I got a bit of a lesson there, they pulled us all over the place in the backline. It was a bit confusing. We played right into their hands. That’s why we let in four goals.”