ANTHONY DALY WANTS his Dublin players to stand up and be counted after their Leinster final collapse.
The Dubs fell flat and managed just 10 scores yesterday as Kilkenny trounced them in Croke Park, 0-24 to 1-9.
Now their summer hinges on a make-or-break All-Ireland quarter final later this month, and Daly believes they have the mental strength to put this setback behind them.
“You just appeal to their character. You say — ‘What we do we do now? Do we stand up? Are we going to have a lash off this?’
The easy option is just to say, ‘Ah this wasn’t our year,’ but that won’t do in three weeks’ time. We just look for the characters in the room, and already you can see it down there [in the dressing room].
“They will have a good lash at it. I can’t say that for certain sitting here, but from what I’ve seen from them in the past when they’ve lost, they’ve picked up their heads and gone again and that’s what I hope will happen.”
There was a definite lack of sharpness in the Dublin performance and that, more than anything else, baffled Daly.
“Our touch, I just couldn’t figure that bit out. Our touch looked very good in training right up until the weekend. We played two matches in training on Friday and Sunday. The touch looked sharp.
“But you have to do it on the day, and they did it on the day. They were strong. They defended very well and they deserved it.
We got our hand to the ball but we were letting it fall. If you let it fall around those lads, you know what usually happens.
“They tackled fierce tigerishly. We didn’t match that intensity at all now today.”
After bridging a 52-year wait for provincial honours last year, the challenge for Dublin yesterday was to defend their title — something they haven’t done since 1942.
In the hours before throw-in, Daly saw no sign of nerves.
“After the parade [selector] Shane Martin said to me, ‘Everything is ready,’ but the great imponderable is you just don’t know.
“I’ve often been in tension-filled rooms and fellas went out and hurled great. Sometimes there’s no tension, and you think everything is right… but it just didn’t click into gear today at all.
Credit to Kilkenny, I would give them great credit. They’ve really shown that they’re entitled to be All-Ireland favourites over the last few weeks. They might have let Galway off the hook but they didn’t the last day and they didn’t today.
“They’ll be hard to beat. They’re a step ahead of us in the pecking order. They’re Leinster champions.
“But we’re in the quarter-final and we’ve seen over the last week or two that anything can happen in this Championship. We’ve got to pick ourselves up.”