Dubs going back to basics to reach the next level – Dotsie
STILL too soon, perhaps, for talk of the new hurling season. Last year was so breathtaking that to look ahead to what this summer may hold, might dull the memory of what went before.
Clare stole the limelight, but in the breathless exchanges that surrounded the two All-Ireland finals, Dublin's breakthrough seemed a little overshadowed. A Leinster title, coming after wins over Kilkenny and Galway, meant the Dubs had firmly planted themselves at the top table.
Don't ask the bookmakers to decide how this year will go. On their pricing, you could throw a blanket across Kilkenny, Tipperary, Cork and Clare. Dublin are next on the list, but David 'Dotsie' O'Callaghan believes they are right in the mix.
"I suppose we won't be taken for granted anyway," O'Callaghan said, at the AIG launch of Dublin's GAA season. "We've had substantial success to a degree with a National League and a Leinster championship. It's going to be a fairly competitive environment this year, no doubt about it.
"There's a lot of teams there now thinking they can push on and go far and we'd like to think we're one of them. We'll just be knuckling down and trying to improve on a couple of things that could maybe help us get further. But we won't be looking too far forward, we'll be trying to bring it down to basics."
In recent years, the Walsh Cup has proved to be a decent indicator as to how Dublin's season will fare. They won the competition in 2011 and went on to take league Division 1 honours. They were also successful in the competition last January en route to their Leinster title and they secured a win over a strong UCD side on Tuesday night.
But the past has also shown that this group can take two steps forward before falling off the pace in the following year.
"Maybe it was a lack of experience," O'Callaghan says. "But to be honest, I don't think it's an issue at this stage. Maybe after last year and getting the bit of success we got, lads are just hungry for it now. There are a lot of lads who were on the panel last year who didn't see as much action as others and they're mad to play and mad to get out there and show what they can do."
The defeat to Cork in last year's All-Ireland semi-final still sticks in the craw.
"I suppose we learned a few things alright. Look we were very disappointed by that game and, individually, we made a lot of errors as well, basic ones with touch that let us down. So, there were things we can all look at as a group and individually.
"There's nothing specific, but you would have had a couple of lads disappointed with their own individual performances. It's something to aspire to – to try to get back to that stage."
O'Callaghan (pictured) was withdrawn from Tuesday night's game as a precaution after he picked up a hamstring twinge. After an excellent summer, he remains a key part of Anthony Daly's plans. But Dublin's squad has renewed depth to it with the emergence of new talent and the return of former All Star Alan McCrabbe.
"It's great to have him back. He wasn't able to commit last year, but he's able to commit this year. He's obviously a fantastic hurler and a former All Star. He's injured at the moment and is due back in the next few weeks so its another fella fighting for a position.
"The core group have been there with Anthony for the last five or six years. There is that experience there, built up. We'd be hoping to use that to our advantage as well. There's great continuity and camaraderie there.
"Obviously, there are young lads coming through as well which helps to push the thing on. You need that as well. It's going well at the moment."