Time constraints forces Tommy Dunne to step away from Dublin role

Capital’s hurling coach’s decision to leave is ‘disappointing’ but understandable, according to manager Ger Cunningham

New Dublin hurling manager Ger Cunningham. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho.

New Dublin hurling manager Ger Cunningham. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho.

 
Tommy Dunne

The Dublin hurling manager – speaking at a sponsor’s event in Parnell Park – described Dunne’s decision to step aside as “very disappointing”, although he clearly understood why: Dunne, who captained Tipperary to the 2001 All-Ireland, had been acting as Dublin hurling coach under previous manager Anthony Daly, and was the only member of that backroom staff to carry over into Cunningham’s reign.

Although Dunne appeared fully committed for 2015, it emerged over the weekend that he’d been accepted onto the Masters in Sports Performance programme at the University of Limerick: Dunne also runs his own business, and given the sudden increase in time commitments, something had to go.

“It had been flagged early on, when we were talking, that he had applied for a course in UL,” explained Cunningham. “In the last couple of weeks he got called in. It obviously put a lot of pressure on his time, to be able to do part-time education plus his job, his family and his travelling and all that kind of stuff. But it’s very disappointing to lose him.

“I’ve done some coaching since, and the lads with me, Gearóid (Ó Riain) and Shay (Boland) have done a bit of coaching as well. So, the interim or short-term plan is that we’ll do it between us. But we will put someone in as a head coach.”

Stepping aside

“It’s a very important role really. If you’re coaching a team, you are coaching anything up to 30-35 players three or four times a week, so you build up a very strong relationship with them. Obviously, the Dublin players would have had a very strong relationship with Tommy because he had been with them for the last number of years. The lads had great time for them, and he was very popular with the players.

“So it’s a huge role, because you’re the guy that’s on the field with them, helping them to achieve the levels of performance that we’re trying to get. There’s a big interaction between players and coaches. And part of the role as manager is to step back and to see the bigger picture. You tend to look at all aspects of it, and coaching is one aspect of it in that situation.”

It’s early days yet, but Cunningham is intent of bringing his own style and substance to Dublin, the first real test of his new reign coming on Saturday evening in the Walsh Cup, when Dublin play Galway (5.0) in the curtain-raiser to the Dublin-Donegal Allianz Football League game.

“So it’s probably taken the players a while to get used to my style, and me to get used to their style,” said Cunningham, who also admitted it wasn’t easy stepping into the shoes of Anthony Daly, given his success and popularity with Dublin over the previous six years.

“And he [Daly] had such a relationship with them. And I think, if you talk to any of the players, the relationship that they had with Dalo was fantastic. But I also think from talking to the lads and from talking to Dalo himself, it came to a natural end really, from their point of view.”

Dublin’s progress to the Walsh Cup final has seen Cunningham deploy Dublin hurlers in a range of new positions, including Michael Carton at full back, even though he’s be more familiar with the half-back line.

‘Comfort zone’

“Not just myself but Peter Kelly at centre back, and Liam Rushe at full forward. I think as a hurler you should be able to play anywhere. There are no complaints, you just get on with it. And we’ve seen Conal Keaney go to wing back. It’s not the first time Conal has done that, and Conal can play anywhere.”

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