Pat Gilroy and Anthony Cunningham are guiding Dublin's fortunes. Morgan Treacy/INPHO
back on track

'There was nothing to heal' - all well in Gilroy's Dublin camp as players return

The new boss has drafted back in figures who were absent in 2017.

DUBLIN HURLING BOSS Pat Gilroy insists he has not had to heal any rifts in their squad since taking charge last October after a number of players have returned to the fold for the 2018 season.

Gilroy took the reins after a 2017 campaign that saw Dublin scarred by heavy championship losses to Galway and Tipperary.

It was a season characterised by the Dublin players that were not involved. Some had been omitted while others opted to walk.

A bunch have been drafted back into the setup with goalkeeper Alan Nolan and midfielder Johnny McCaffrey notable presences in Wednesday night’s Walsh Cup opener.

Gilroy revealed that he has discussed the matter with players who were absent last season but is adamant ‘it hasn’t been an issue’.

“Every one of them told me why and the reasons are so varied it was of no real relevance. But they did tell me. A lot of them,  there were assumed reasons for some of them that weren’t the case.

“They had personal things where they couldn’t commit to inter-county for a period of time and unfortunately, a lot of it coincided at the same time so people jumped to other conclusions about them.

“They’re a group who have committed to training and have trained very hard for the bits that we have done.

“It hasn’t been an issue. There hasn’t been a ripple of anything. There was nothing to heal.

“When you talk to lads who were in good form last year, they didn’t get the results they wanted but any fella that has come back is going to have to earn his place and he’s going to have to work as hard as the rest of the squad, so there’s no issues.

“Guys want to have the best players playing and they’re quite clear on that.”

John McCaffrey raises the O'Keeffe cup Johnny McCaffrey is back for Dublin. Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

Gilroy is taking the reins before a summer where the complexion of the hurling championship has been radically altered.

Dublin face Kilkenny on 13 May, Wexford on 20 May, Offaly on 3 June and Galway on 9 June. It’s a packed and challenging schedule but one that finds favour with the Dublin manager.

“I think it’s great. As a player, as a manager, just getting games and having loads of games, that’s what you want. That’s what the players want.

“I think it will be very positive and training is a means to an end. It’s all about playing games.

“So I think it’s great. And I hope I’m still saying it this time next year.

“But it’s far better than having these three-week breaks between games where you’re all looking at each other for the first week and it’s hard to replicate the game situation and the intensity of it.”

Liam Rushe with Conor Whelan Oisin Keniry / INPHO Oisin Keniry / INPHO / INPHO

Gilroy is monitoring the fitness of players recovering from injury and has opted to leave the Cuala contingent concentrate on their All-Ireland club bid.

“To be honest, we took a very conscious decision in November that anyone who was carrying any sort of an injury, any kind of niggly thing that they were carrying from game-to-game, that they would go off and get it sorted.

“Whether it was surgery – although a lot of it was minor – there was ten or 11 of them that we just bit the bullet and said ‘right, we’re not going to have you limping from game to game.’

“So there is about ten guys who are in that boat, the likes of Eamonn Dillon, Peter Kelly – fellas like that who will be back with us in the next two weeks.

“It was worth doing that to get it right so that they were fit for the year.”

Peter Kelly with Jake Dillon and Barry Coughlan Peter Kelly in action for Dublin against Waterford in 2015. Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

“My attitude is they (Cuala) are getting a lot of quality games because they’re playing plenty of friendlies themselves. It’s great for the county when a club team is doing well.

“It did very well for the football team when the club sides were starting to win All-Irelands. Any success is good.

“And for us, it just gives us more of an opportunity to look at players in the League and we’ll have fellas who have hopefully won another All-Ireland coming back to us at the end of March.

“So I don’t see it as a problem at all.”

Cuala players celebrate at the end of the game Cuala players celebrating their Leinster final win over Kilcormac-Killoughey. Ken Sutton / INPHO Ken Sutton / INPHO / INPHO

“We’ve been very strict in terms (that) I don’t want to be causing a distraction saying to anyone ‘you’re in’ or ‘you’re not in’ and that putting them off.

“So we’ve left them. I’ve talked to Mattie (Kenny) several times and he respects that and the players know that so we’ll talk to them whenever they’re finished.”

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