Durable Daly always ready to answer his manager's call
Published 14/09/2016 | 02:30
When Darren Daly heard of the departures of Jack McCaffrey and Rory O'Carroll from the Dublin defence from 2016, he must have felt this was his chance.
Daly has been loyal to Dublin and Dublin have been loyal to him. He doesn't always play but he's never seemed too far away from things either. So with two spots opening up in the back six, he must have sensed the opportunity.
However, his role with Dublin has remained largely the same. Jim Gavin calls on the Fingal Ravens man when necessary and not before.
For example, when James McCarthy missed the Leinster final, Eric Lowndes was given the nod. And while Dublin used five subs against Kerry, four of them were recognised forwards.
Going into Sunday's final, it seems unlikely that Daly will see action. Mick Fitzsimons features regularly off the bench and looks to be ahead of him, while Gavin isn't afraid to have more forwards than defenders on the pitch. It all means that figuring out where he stands in the plan isn't easy.
"You definitely have to stay positive," said Daly. "I have been in the same sort of position for the last couple of finals, played the quarters, didn't play the semis, lucky enough to get on in the finals.
"Everyone has their own goals, all looking towards the collective goal. But whether the goal is that you want a few minutes or you are starting, you know what you are chasing."
And while Gavin's forced defensive reshuffle didn't include an expanded role for Daly, he has no qualms about how Davey Byrne and John Small have performed.
" (I) think they have done pretty well, in fairness. We are hearing a lot about it at the start of the year, but we always believed the strength in depth of our panel is huge, look at Davey Byrne coming in there and flying. You have to have that belief in everyone that is on the panel. We are in an All-Ireland final so it hasn't gone too bad."
For the last couple of weeks in training, he's been chasing the thing hard, trying to do enough to force himself into the reckoning. He won't know if he has done enough until Jim Gavin turns and summons someone down from the Hogan Stand.
"From my end, you have to believe that all the time. You have to have some belief to drive you on.
"Whether there are starting positions up for grabs, I don't know and that is not for me to decide, I just need to focus on what I can."