HURLING: DAVY EXPECTS ‘MOTHER OF ALL BATTLES’ ON SUNDAY
GOING INTO Parnell Park last Sunday, I had heard rumours of the rejuvenation of Pat Gilroy’s Dublin charges after an indifferent league. Training was reportedly going very well for the sky blues and they were hugely impressive in a recent challenge game against Limerick.
A number of the Cuala contingent were back on board and the return of a few players exiled during the Ger Cunningham era seemed to suggest that they wouldn’t be the cannon fodder that many predicted for Brian Cody’s league champions.
On a beautifully atmospheric Sunday in the tight confines of the north Dublin venue, the signs were correct and the city men came away from a game that they most certainly should have won.
It was a real smash and grab job from the team you can never write off.
Since the new format and draws were announced, I have been firmly of the opinion that our season will depend to a great extent on next Sunday’s visit of the Dubs, and on the Parnell evidence we have a mighty battle ahead.
Dublin are physically very strong with a half-back line to match anything in the country at present. Shane Barrett and Chris Crummey are incredibly strong under the dropping ball, and in the middle Seán Moran plays the sweeper role (as also shown in the club championship) as effectively as anyone around.
Given that Wexford will almost certainly go with the extra defender, it will be quite a challenge to find our way around a strong Dublin defence at the other end.
Up front their five forwards, led by a brilliant Liam Rushe, take quite a bit of stopping and the Dublin giant’s battle with our own Liam Ryan will go a long way to deciding the outcome.
Conal Keaney returned after a two-year absence and showed at 35 years of age with four points from play that he has lost none of his leadership abilities, and his injury was the major turning point in the closing stages.
If unavailable for Davy’s battle it will be a serious blow to his team. Dublin’s season now very much hangs on their performance in Innovate Wexford Park, and the big question is how they react psychologically to losing a game they most certainly should have won.
One advantage Dublin will have is a competitive game under their belt, and it is hard to assess our own form coming into the game.
The league semi suggested heavy legs within our camp and sometimes when facing into competition after a lay-off it can be very hard to predict form.
So in short, the game holds plenty of challenges and one would hope that we have just enough to nick it. It’s going to be an almighty battle though and will no doubt go to the wire.
Since the new format had been announced I have voiced huge concerns about the relegation clause in Leinster, and now all of a sudden all the pundits seem to have realised the consequences.
Nobody will convince me that it is for the good of hurling that any of the five teams in the round robin should be relegated, and the task of rebuilding hurling in any of the counties if not in the Leinster championship would be a nightmare.
Add another county if necessary but this needs to be changed as there are few enough strongholds of the ancient game without reducing one from the top tier.
As pointed out at the weekend, if Antrim win the Joe McDonagh Cup we will only have three Leinster teams in the championship next year. Now, that doesn’t make sense.
Hard luck to the footballers and well done on a wonderful performance. I have no doubt that the correct decision was made on the penalty, but we should have made a bigger effort to break or disrupt the play from the kick-out.
Finally, well done to my old friend John Godkin and North End on their incredible achievement last Saturday, further evidence that we have no peers as an all-round sporting county. Up Wexford.