Playing in Croke Park 'no advantage' to Dublin - Rushe
Liam Rushe insists there is "no home advantage" for the Dublin hurlers when they play their League games in Croke Park.
The St Pat's Palmerstown clubman believes that other sides are at least as familiar with GAA HQ as his side are and that the Dubs miss out on the atmosphere that might be created if they played their home games in a smaller ground.
"The problem with early hurling matches in Croke Park is that there is very little atmosphere," Rushe said ahead of tomorrow night's Division 1A opener against Tipperary at the Dublin 3 stadium.
"We spoke about it before as a team. You really have to bring your own intensity, basically create your own atmosphere as a team.
"And it really is difficult. It would be easier to create it on an abandoned club field. At least it's tight there, you might have some sort of perimeters. In Croke Park, it's just an enormous cavern, just the 15 or 20 people shouting. So that is an extra challenge.
"There is no home advantage in playing matches at Croker. I understand why they want to do it. It makes commercial sense to put the two teams in there together. But whoever we play will probably have played there as often as we have - Tipperary in first game, they've only played there in September."
Rushe has been named captain for a third successive year and he will lead what is likely to be a very inexperienced side out against the All-Ireland champions given the absence of their Cuala contingent and the change in personnel in the panel.
But while acknowledging Dublin face a battle to retain their 1A status, he has no doubt that they will be competitive this year.
"It will be a big challenge, but it's been a big challenge every year. Six teams, so you're looking at winning three games to maintain your safety. And there are no pushovers. But it's been like that for years.
"It's great for Dublin hurling that Cuala are going so far, that we've finally broken that Leinster barrier after I don't know how many years. They've a good run, an opportunity of getting to an All-Ireland final, so we're all behind them.
"It would obviously have been nice to have them around, not even for playing purposes, just to have them around, to integrate them into what is largely a new panel.
"Other than that, it will give us a real opportunity … there was the fear there that you might bring in new panel members and if you had the 5/6/7 Cuala players, you mightn't see as much of the new players. But now Ger is going to find out what he has pretty damn soon.
"If we can perform we can always mix it with the best, it was a matter of getting a consistent level of performance.
"We are still chasing it, but even with the players we have at the moment and when we get the Cuala lads back and we perform, we will be a force in the Championship. Then we just need a bit of luck, stay injury-free for once and get the refereeing decisions to go our way and we'll be right up there."