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Anthony Daly: Prize for Dubs if they beat Limerick is huge


Anthony Daly

Anthony Daly

Anthony Daly

A "no brainer," is how Anthony Daly describes the return of Liam Rushe to the centre-back spot for Dublin for last Saturday's qualifier in Portlaoise.

He backed it up, too, in a tactical disagreement with Donal Óg Cusack on The Sunday Game the following night but he's equally adamant now that Ger Cunningham must "build a system" around Rushe from now, until whenever Dublin's interest in 2015 expires.

"With the wind, it was hard to be under every puck out, but he sat deep and gave massive cover," Daly told the Herald ahead of Dublin's potentially season-salvaging All-Ireland Round 2 qualifier against Limerick in Thurles on Saturday.

"And you've got to work your system around that."

The 'nay' camp in the Rushe-at-number-six debate (consisting, it seems, primarily of former Cork goalkeepers), worry that the modern style centre-forward can and will drop and hurt from further out the pitch, leaving Rushe idle in the middle of a defence having its wings scorched.

Inevitably, Laois tried just that.

But it simply allowed Rushe to loiter closely in front of Cian O'Callaghan, rendering Laois's goal threat practically null and void.

"If his man comes deep coming for ball .. say if he's marking Declan Hannon the next day," Daly outlines.

"You've got to get a midfielder onto Hannon and then you've got to get a wing-forward coming out covering the midfielder's spot.


"Then an inside forward comes out and makes it a three-man half-forward line.

"Maybe leave Mark (Schutte) and Conal (Keaney) inside on their own. Two insides close together.

"Two great fielders of a ball with strength, pace and vision. That's what you've got to do," Daly stresses.

"Let Liam protect the full-back line and then protect Liam as well.

"I think they have the type of players to do that."

His surrendering of the Dublin reins is too recent for Daly not to have an intense interest in the well-being of his former players ahead of Saturday.

His involvement with the Limerick minors on Sunday against Tipperary in the Munster minor final also means Daly's ear is hovering close enough to the ground in the Treaty County to make a decent appraisal of their situation.

And like many, what strikes the Clareman hard between the eyes, is the very obvious and plentiful similarities between the plight/chances of both counties coming into a match that will dictate whether 2015 is a total failure or a mild success - and counting.

"Both of them are coming off a fair trimming," Daly points out.

"One from Galway, one from Tipp. And they both have had matches they were expected to win and were going to get no credit for winning them.

"And they both won them with a bit to spare but had their moments.

"I just think it's the day that one of the two will turn the corner. And could look forward to having a cut at a quarter-final, a win there would put them in the last four."

While no-one in either camp will say it, they'll be pretty happy with their opposition on Saturday.

Limerick's alternative opponents were Cork. Dublin's - Clare.

"I think they'll both be happy with the draw," Daly admits.

"Clare have a lot of potential at the moment. Cork went down and had a big win in Wexford and maybe they're back on track.

"So they'll both be glad that this is the way it worked out. They'll both be saying: 'this is a great chance for us'. "Dublin gave Limerick a right hiding in the League and I know that Limerick targeted that one as one that they'd really try and kick off their season.

"They had a bad League but said in Croke Park that they would go up and ignite their season.

"But Dublin just blew them away on the night."

Similarly, there is uncertainty over how both will line out, usually symptomatic of an oscillating summer.

"They'll make changes now, I presume," agrees Daly.

"There was a lot made of TJ (Ryan) leaving off Seamus Hickey, Declan Hannon. So look, there is certainly a great deal of uncertainty in both camps.

"With Dublin, I think the changes worked. Conal seemed to work very well. I think it's a very good move because he's very clever beside Mark.

"Maybe they'll be a change or two there as well. Maybe Durkin will come back into the fray. Maybe Simmo (Lambert), for experience, for Thurles.

"It's hard to know. Cian Boland probably justified his selection the last day. He was very good with the under-21s.

"So it was no harm shaking it up.

"I think Limerick tried to do the same with their panel, they brought in a few young lads.


Daly adds - echoing just about everyone who has considered this particular match: "I think it's all to play for. I find it hard to make a prediction.

"Thurles, I suppose, Limerick will be a bit more used to playing there and probably have a better record there.

"But still, of the two big games there, we won one and they won one in five or six years.

"There's no excuses. It's a great place to play. There'll big a great atmosphere and a big crowd. It's all to play for.

"I mean, a win in this game really tees you up," Daly adds, of the prize for the victors. "Because you'll be meeting a team coming off a loss and you'll be coming off two wins.

"They really have an advantage in that game. To make the last four would be real target stuff," he concludes.

"Like, retain Division 1 status and get to the last four in your first season, I think, would be good going for Ger."