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Dublin: 17 °C Monday 13 July, 2020

Dubs' wasteful shooting not really a problem, says Daly

Dublin hurling manager Anthony Daly is happy that his side’s sizable wide count will sort itself out over time.

Image: ©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

ON SUNDAY AFTERNOON, the hurlers of Dublin will take to the Croke Park pitch for their first National Hurling League Final since 1945, squaring off against the team whom many justifiably regard as the greatest ever to play the game – Brian Cody’s Kilkenny.

Although Neville Chamberlain was appeasing a man by the name of Adolf Hitler the last time the Dubs got their hands on the Division 1 trophy, there is strikingly little pressure on the men from the capital to deliver the goods this weekend.

Going into Sunday’s game as the clear underdogs – as any team would be in a game against the Cats’ current crop of talent – the general consensus in Dublin hurling circles is that the boys in blue may have slightly overachieved just by getting this far in the first place. After all, in the final round of games two weeks ago, the Dubs only secured their place in the league decider by virtue of a favour from Waterford who beat Galway in Walsh Park.

Admittedly, there is something painfully familiar about a Dublin side making life difficult for both themselves and their fans, but it didn’t have to be that way. An impressive start to the campaign saw Anthony Daly’s men pick up three wins in their opening four games, including a single-point victory over All-Ireland Champions Tipperary.

Then the wastefulness kicked in. Well, maybe it was a trait which had been present in the side’s game all along, but now it began to hurt.

19 wides in the defeat against Galway. 17 in the drawn game against Sunday’s opponents. After the most promising of beginnings, Dublin’s destiny was now out of their hands.

“We probably felt we blew it a bit the night of the Galway game,” Dubs boss Anthony Daly told yesterday, ”but we got the couple of results – the draw against Kilkenny and the win in Cork and the other results went our way as well.”

Though disappointed, the former All-Ireland winning captain was insistent that any sort of challenge for the divisional title was a distant priority at the start of the season, with top-tier survival the Dubs’ main concern.

We weren’t thinking about Division 1 League finals until we were safe in Division 1 first this year – that was the big thing to do, to make sure Division 1 hurling continued for another season.

“That was really important for us and it was only really when you were on to the five-point mark that you could begin to think to yourself, ‘We could have a chance here if we drive on.’”

In recent years, a lot has been made of Dublin’s inability to sustain a lead with the side’s often-erratic shooting pinpointed as a symptom of their tendency to choke on the big stage. Daly, however, appears rather unconcerned by this wastefulness.

“I’d rather if they were floating over the bar obviously,” he admits before drawing on his own experience as a Championship-winning defender to explain his take on the matter.

In my days playing in the backs, if I could be out first to the ball and clearing it down the field before my man could get a shot off, I’d consider it a good day. It’s obviously a better sign of a forward if he can create the chances once he is not going for the crazy ones.

The main problem with a high wide count, he concedes, is the impact it has on an individual’s performance rather than the damage which it might do on the scoreboard.

“It’s like any sport. I’m watching a bit of the snooker at the moment and if those lads miss a pot that they should be getting, they have to try to put it out of their minds and get back. It’s the same in golf, we saw what happened to some of the lads in the Masters.”

It’s a game of sticking with it and trying to having the moral courage to come out and try that shot again when the chance presents itself.

Against Cody and his wily Cats on Sunday, Dublin will need every ounce of that courage if they are to bring a historic title back to the capital.

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About the author:

Niall Kelly

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