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Dublin's dual stars need to 'decide at 16' which code they want to play

Former Dublin hurling boss Humphrey Kelleher has made the call.

Humphrey Kelleher says Dublin need to make the move to get players to commit to hurling.
Humphrey Kelleher says Dublin need to make the move to get players to commit to hurling.
Image: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

FORMER DUBLIN MANAGER Humphrey Kelleher says the county’s hurling power-brokers need to stop feeling sorry for themselves in lamenting the absence of a number of dual players from this year’s senior panel.

Instead, Kelleher wants young players to choose their preferred code at 16 years of age, so they can be fast-tracked from there to the respective adult teams.

Missing from this year’s squad were dual stars Emmet O Conghaile, Ciaran Kilkenny, Cormac Costello and Eric Lowndes, who all opted to play in Jim Gavin’s football squad.

Conor McHugh, a very promising hurler, opted not to play with this year’s county U21 set-up either.

Rory O’Carroll and Diarmuid Connolly are two other renowned hurlers who could have made a serious impact with Anthony Daly’s set-up.

The Dublin players and county board are waiting to see what Daly’s next move is.

The Clare man got on with his job and never publicly complained about the absence of those dual players and Kelleher says he was right not to do so.

Kelleher said: “They are not here with us and they will not be here anytime in the future with the Dublin hurling team.

“They made their decisions and good luck to them.

“It was well flagged that they would not be around and to his credit Anthony never made an issue of it.

“But a lot of people around the county did and I think that people maybe got their hopes up when Conal Keaney and ‘Dotsy’ O’Callaghan returned to the hurling squad after being with the footballers.

“Maybe people thought there was more on the way. That was never the case and it never will be.

“So we need to get young guys to choose at 16 and if they opt for hurling we need to fast track them into an elite development squad which will feed into the senior team.

“Against Tipperary, we were off our men a little bit and our touch was poor.

“This is a structural issue and it suggests that players are not coming through like we need them to.

“I would feel that it’s time for another Hurling Blueprint to follow the one we designed in 2001. We need a Blueprint Extra now.”

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Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Kelleher, speaking ahead of next Sunday’s rearranged M.Donnelly All-Ireland Poc Fada finals at the Cooley Mountains, said that when he and colleagues mapped out that strategic plan for Dublin hurling 13 years ago, the aim was simply to get a hurl into the hands of young Dublin players.

Kelleher, the Poc Fada chairman, said: “We’ve obviously progressed much since then and no-one can under-estimate the amount of work that Anthony Daly and his crew have put in.

“We just need to push on and ensure that the players of the future are even better developed coming through.

“Participation levels are way up and I will go back as far as this year’s U12 Schools Leinster final which was contested between Dublin North and Dublin South.

“We are emerging all the time so I wouldn’t be one bit despondent about the senior team’s fortunes.

“We will continue to be a force; we just need another review; to take stock of where we need to work harder at and what we are good at.

“In the All-Ireland quarter final, Tipp won most of the rucks because they were able to come away with the ball and their touch was better.

“That’s a structural fault here in Dublin; it’s nothing to do with any manager.”

Kelleher feels that if Daly moves on, the job will have to go to someone within the county, although he didn’t dismiss the suggestion that someone like Tipperary’s Tommy Dunne would be in with a shout of taking the job in the future.

“I firmly believe that any manager who takes over Dublin in the future needs to know what way we are set up.

“Club hurling is weak so they have to be aware of that. Tommy Dunne, at least and just for example, would know what we are about having coached the lads in the past two years.

“But we need to get better across all levels. We need to rewrite the blueprint for success.

“Irrespective of who manages the team, we need to produce better players as I would feel there are very few natural hurlers coming through our system. “We have to change that. Seamus Callanan was winning ball and shrugging off Dublin players to score points. It was too easy.

“Why is that? Again, it’s a structural thing – there’s only so much a manager can do. We need to look at the fundamentals.”

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Jackie Cahill

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