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'No regrets. I do everything on my own terms' - Sutcliffe happy with Dublin return

Danny Sutcliffe is back in Pat Gilroy’s Dublin hurling set-up after a two-year hiatus.

DANNY SUTCLIFFE IS back and enjoying life with the Dublin hurlers once again.

Danny Sutcliffe Dublin hurler Danny Sutcliffe. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

He makes one thing clear from the outset; he has no regrets and is more than happy with his decision to take time away from the fold.

The 2013 All-Star recently returned to Irish soil after spending a year working in New York. It was ahead of the 2016 season that he opted out of the inter-county set-up to concentrate on his Masters studies in Dublin City University (DCU) before crossing the pond.

Stateside, there was some hurling and even a stint with the New York footballers. There was work in accounting and finance, and plenty of it. With no chance of getting a visa extension and no real plans, he came home in early October.

A phonecall from Pat Gilroy shortly after his appointment as the Dublin hurling manager, and Sutcliffe was more or less back.

“There was contact with Pat and obviously knowing what he did with the footballers — he changed the culture of football — and Mickey Whelan, having the chance to be involved with him,” the St Jude’s clubman explained earlier today.

“That is all it was, just an offer to come back in, I wasn’t automatically on the team. I didn’t want to miss that train. It is a brilliant set-up, a great environment to be involved in.

“Probably now I’m getting into the wrong side of my twenties so I’m one of the mature ones looking to help bring om them 18 and 19-year-olds who are now looking for an example. You have to be that for them, that is the job at the moment.”

No regrets. No falling out with former boss Ger Cunningham as much speculation suggested. Sutcliffe wanted to do something for himself.

“I do everything on my own terms. It was nothing to do with the manager or players or how it was going. I was going away anyway regardless of how good it was going.

AIG / Dublin GAA 2018 Season Launch Source: David Fitzgerald/SPORTSFILE

“At the end of the day people forget in Ireland it is a hobby. You can’t let that dictate your plans or your career. I was going regardless on my own terms.

“No regrets, I suppose it is like anything, playing. You can’t second guess yourself. The decision is always right at the time, I feel. It was tough watching because I’d be close friends with the lads, but it wasn’t something I was going to be part of.

“I was away, I had plans to be away with work, you have to do that. At the end of the day I was going anyway.”

As he says himself, he wasn’t just ready for Saturday night’s Division 1B National Hurling League opener against Offaly at Croke Park.

He’s getting there fitness-wise and feels he’s put himself in the frame for selection as Dublin look to make amends for last weekend’s defeat this time around against Antrim.

On that loss, he remarked: “It is a little reminder how competitive 1B is, but look Sunday is the big one.

“They come so quick you have to take every week as it comes. We are preparing ourselves, we’re not worrying about what anyone else is doing. You can’t be looking outside the window all of the time, we have to get our own house in order.”

On that point, he notes that the Dublin hurlers draw great inspiration from the success of their football counterparts of late.

“We wouldn’t really look outside the county to other hurling teams; we have the footballers here consistently. There is an ethos and a set-up and a system there that players should be able to slot in and out.

“On Saturday you had eight debuts which was unusual to have that many, but it was great to have that many early in the season. It is great to be thrown in to see what it is all about, like anything with Joe Schmidt and the rugby people can slot in and out.

“Everyone knows they have a job to do.”

Danny Sutcliffe and Pat Hughes Source: Andy Marlin/INPHO

He looks back fondly on his time in America.

The football was enjoyable, he met a string of names through that and it kept him ticking over when the small ball took a back seat: “It was good, I was bluffing my way through it!”

The hurling then, he plied his trade with Ulster and they won the championship out.

“I wouldn’t call it hurling, it was more UFC now,” he grins. “I had to buy a new helmet when I came home. I’d be no angel myself, like.

“It’s a good standard, but it’s ‘you’re taking your life into your own hands kind of stuff’. It was a competitive standard and all that, but, there were no yellow cards or anything like that, I’ll put it that way.”

From speaking to Sutcliffe, there’s a real sense that the club is of huge importance. He followed them closely from overseas, and is happy to be back in the thick of the action.

He’s working away with a wholesale distribution company at the minute alongside an old boss, and kept busy with that.

He’s happy to be back, focusing on commitments both on and off the field, and enjoying life under Gilroy at the helm.

“He’s a manager,” he adds of the 2011 All-Ireland senior football winning mastermind.

“He’s not trying to reinvent the wheel. He’s not showing us how to block or hold the hurl properly, we’ve done this for years, it’s about thinking on the spot and composing ourselves when we get the chance in May, June and July.

Danny Sutcliffe Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“We’ve to be able to do it, then, and Anthony Cunningham is bringing a new dynamic as well. It’s all there for us.

He adds: “I’m trying to contribute, to help.

“There are 18 and 19-year-olds there who would have been babies when I came in. I wouldn’t say I’m trying to take them under my wing, just they are looking for a template to look up to, to map out where they are going. I did it with Conal Keaney.

“Me him, Johnny, Shane Durkin have to do it for Cillian Costello, Ronan Hayes from Crokes, who are 18 or 19 coming in. Baby foals coming in, that is all it is, trying to build.

“We had a good team ethos with a close group. That should transfer on to the pitch as well.”

Dublin players Eimear McCarthy, Dean Rock, Leah Caffrey and Danny Sutcliffe were in Parnell Park today to kick off the 2018 Dublin GAA Season with team sponsor’s AIG Insurance. 

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