True-blue Hickey part of a winning team again

Medic believes future remains very bright for talented young Dublin squad

David Hickey with former Dublin manager Pat Gilroy. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

David Hickey with former Dublin manager Pat Gilroy. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho


Most successful teams, in all walks of life, have a David Hickey among their ranks.

A brief background on the transplant surgeon: Three -time All-Ireland winner in the 1970s, two-time All Star and former selector, the consultant urologist is the medic in Jim Gavin’s platoon.

“I’ve never been a doctor to a losing Dublin team,” he reminded us – citing 1983 and now. It was some warzone Sunday. Concussions, eyes welded shut, fractured bones, every crutch used.

“And lads, there wasn’t a dirty blow in it . . . Every ball was contested as if people’s lives depended on it.”

Hickey added: “Most guys don’t have any skin on their feet. They ran themselves into the ground. Michael Darragh (Macauley) is a tough customer. (His foot) could be broke but it is only a small toe! It wouldn’t put him out of a game.”

Pub talk
Tentatively we seek to compare the 2013 crew with his 1970s team. Dubliners have been dying for such pub talk and Hickey allows it.

“Oh, I think in 2011 they were better than us. This just reinforces that.

“This is a team in evolution too. This is not the finished product by any means. We still can’t put one on ones away with the keeper. The pace, we don’t slow down. That’s something we have to work on next year. Michael Darragh and Eoghan (O’Gara) had one on ones yesterday that could have ended the game and we still didn’t take them.

“Against Cork we had 10 goal chances and didn’t take any of them so, I mean, they are going to be around for a long time competing, not necessarily winning.”

So, the Rocks, McCaffreys, Kilkennys have the talent to carry this on for a decade?

“When the hunger goes out of the thing, I mean, I can’t understand people wanting to win 10 All-Irelands. The Kilkenny guys keep coming back every year because they obviously have a huge level of skill and expertise but competitive Gaelic football, the skill level is pretty standard.

“It’s the drive. No one has won back-to-back All-Irelands because of that. It is the drive and the anger and the hunger to do it. I’m not saying we are going to win for 10 years but I think Dublin are in a position now to compete in the last four for the next 10 years.”

The benchmark is Kevin Heffernan and Tony Hanahoe teams carrying it from one generation to the next.

“We rode on our reputation in ’75 and got a real sucker-punch against Kerry, rearranged the team a little bit but it was a different, different game. We had the same six forwards for six All-Irelands in a row. I mean, we don’t have the same six forwards for one game in a row and you have to use 20 people today.

Just lucky
“We are just lucky that we actually have 10 guys we could bring onto that team and wouldn’t weaken it.”

His eyes dance with delight when asked what kept calling him back.

“Well, there was nothing else to do in our day. Nothing. There was no drink, no women and no money so football was the only game in town.”

Fairly bleak strumpet city in the 1970s? “I’ll tell you, we were the only actual highlight. Life was very tough in the seventies. Ireland is going through a tough patch at the moment and I think for the inner city Dublin kids to have this crowd of guys doing their stuff here is fantastic.”

There’s a new €5 note at his feet. ‘This fall from your pocket, Dave?’ “Ah, it’s only a fiver, hang onto it.”