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Dublin: 10 °C Tuesday 11 December, 2018

'There's a huge opportunity here in Dublin to kick on to another level' - Ollie Baker

Baker believes hurling must be given ‘equal footing’ in the county.

KILMACUD CROKES MANAGER Ollie Baker believes the Dublin hurlers are capable of being “a threat when it comes to the summer” if a number of issues are ironed out within the county.

Ollie Baker dejected after the game Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Baker, who watched Kilmacud lose a second successive county final to Cuala on Saturday, says the talent is there for the Sky Blues to become a major force in the coming seasons.

A double All-Ireland winner with Clare, Baker believes Dublin have excellent coaching structures in place for the small ball code, but now the hurlers must be given “equal footing” at senior inter-county level.

He told Off The Ball’s Oisin Langan: “I’d see an awful lot of issues within the county, within the county board from a structural end and the equal footing hurling should be getting.

“Or maybe a standalone footing it should be getting within the county set-up. And I think that should be addressed.

“There’s an awful lot of elements that have to be taken into consideration before you’re going to turn out a successful team. It’s not just players, they’re just one part of it. The players are certainly there, the commitment will be certainly there and I think you seen today the quality of the players is certainly there but now it’s just about gelling all that package together.

“But also that you have some support for the club system within the county as well,” he added.

“Leaving long periods wihtin the year where there’s no meaningful championship hurling being played – I’m not being critical of the county board – that’s been well flagged.”

Fergal Whitely takes a sideline cut in Saturday's county final Source: Inpho

The former Offaly manager feels that Dublin still have an inferiority complex when they play more traditional hurling counties.

“I just think there’s a huge opportunity here in Dublin to kick on to another level,” said Baker. “They’ve won the Leinster championship and the league title, now it’s about maybe realising they are at the top table and having that composure that when they do go out into the inter-county stage they should be thriving.

“The accusation that was always thrown at Dublin was there was a lot of ‘coached’ hurlers here in the capital. With the amount of kids that are playing – you go around all through the city from the north down to the southside out to where Lucan are and St Brigid’s – the amount of kids that are using hurleys and playing it as a recreational game now it’s just fantastic to see. There’s a huge amount of coaching going on.

“That ultimately will come through to the inter-county stage if there is proper leadership at the top. Pat (Gilroy) has proper leadership but there’s an awful long way to go.”

Pat Gilroy   Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Gilroy, who led the county’s footballers to Sam Maguire success in 2011, has replaced Ger Cunningham in the hot seat and Baker reckons he’s the right man to inspire confidence in his players.

“There’s a lack of confidence maybe in them when they go out. I just see that and maybe they listen to much to what’s going on outside. I think Pat Gilroy, in fairness, what he did with the Dublin footballers was mould that team.

“If he’s going to do what he did with the football and get a committed bunch of players together regardless of who they are, just get committed players together and circle the wagons around him and have a driven focus for the year, then I guarantee you that Dublin are going to be a threat when it comes to the summer.”

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Kevin O'Brien

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