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danny gets top prize

DANNY Sutcliffe has an All-Star in the pocket. He carries it lightly.

Now, he also has the Dublin Bus/Herald Dubs Star Hurler of the Year award to place on his Tymon mantel-piece.

He accepted the accolade with that dash of modesty that marks him out as one of the finest hurlers in Ireland.

"I know it's an individual award, but it really is a collective thing," reflected Danny.

"I'm always delighted any chance I get to put my club, St Jude's, on the map."

And he noted that the Jude's table at The Radisson Blu was a happy one with six Dubs Stars.

Danny's Dubs Stars club colleagues were Ger McManus, Ciarán Mangan, Fionn ó Riain Broin, Rob Hardy and Paul Maguire.

"It's tremendous to have six players from the club named. We never got a Dubs Stars award before. Now we have six."

It was a historic year for the Templeogue club as they reached their first-ever Dublin Senior Championship semi-final, and then the final.

"People were surprised, but we weren't. We knew we had the ability to do well in the championship.

"We kept it to ourselves. But the belief was there in the panel."

And they carried that confidence into winning the AHL Division 1 title against Kilmacud.

Jude's almost created a huge shock when they came within a whisker of beating the highly-fancied Crokes in the championship final.

"It was a big disappointment to lose the final, but we had delivered a performance. That was far better than not turning up and losing by eight points. We had no regrets."

The final stretched to extra-time. Crokes were lucky, and relieved, to get that chance.

And it was Danny's good friend from school days at Colaiste Eoin, Seán McGrath, the Crokes captain, who played a huge role in Kilmacud's recovery.

Jude's settled so comfortably into the biggest night of their lives.

They had proven their ability and temperament when they toppled O'Toole's in the semi-final.

On that Parnell Park afternoon, Jude's delivered a defensive master-class.

And it was their overall industry, and their commitment for playing for each other, that has brought them on such a joyous journey.

And Danny has been central to it all. The St Jude's manager, Seán Fallon, can't speak highly enough of Danny.

"At every training session it's 100 per cent. And when he was out injured in the summer, he was the St Jude's water-boy," he said.

And Danny is quick to hail the champions. "Crokes had a fabulous year and that should be recognised," said Sutcliffe.

That's Danny, the hurler with the All-Star vision, always looking at the bigger picture.