GER CUNNINGHAM’S HURLING career may be associated with exploits for Cork but his current position with Dublin won’t sway his focus next Sunday.
Cunningham managed against his native county for the first time in the league last month as Cork clipped Dublin’s wings in Croke Park in a shootout.
The teams are set to renew acquaintances at the league semi-final stage in Nowlan Park but emotion won’t enter the occasion for the Dublin manager.
“I think he just went out and treated it as another game,” recalls Dublin forward Ryan O’Dwyer of last month’s clash.
“Sometimes when emotions are involved, you take your eye off the ball. That wasn’t the case the last day. I just think Ger has that in his mind that he can’t get emotionally attached to it, because if he does it will take from the focus of the game.
“I certainly don’t think Ger’s involvement with Cork previously and knowing all the players, I don’t think that was an issue. Obviously he was passionate about it, like he would be with any game, but to say that (he was) distracted from the game – definitely not an issue.”
Cunningham’s appointment marked the dawn of a different era for this bunch of Dublin hurlers. A new manager represented a change after the impact and longevity Anthony Daly had enjoyed.
“No one’s the same as Anthony Daly,” outlines O’Dwyer. “I’ve great time for Anthony and Ger – both of them are very good. He (Ger) is different but equally as effective. If we can match what we achieved with Anthony Daly with Ger Cunningham, I think it will be a success.
“Obviously the one we are missing is an All-Ireland with Dalo, but I certainly think that Ger is bringing us on in the right direction, and hopefully, touch wood, we can go a step further.”
The most recent Cork-Dublin encounter caught the eye with the inordinate numbers of points posted on the board. Cork raised 34 white flags in total and had stormed 0-21 to 0-8 clear by half-time.
Dublin rallied after the interval and were 0-34 to 1-20 adrift by the final whistle. It was the latest shootout between the counties on the back of their thrilling 2013 All-Ireland semi-final which Cork won by 1-24 to 1-19.
“It was a strange game (last month’s league tie) and before the game, we felt we were ready for it,” revealed O’Dwyer.
“We were fresh and the training had been great. It was one of those days when whatever way the ball bounced, it was bouncing into a Cork hand for the first half anyway.
“In the second half, then we made a few changes, I was taken off so that probably helped! We came back but we left ourselves too much work to do.
“There’s so many natural hurlers on the Cork team and it’s the same with Dublin, we just want to go out and hurl. When you have two teams like that, there’ll be a lot of scoring chances and there was in that game for Cork anyway.”