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Cuala boss Roberts: This is best squad we have ever had

THE Dalkey quarry is in the bones. Harry Roberts - Cuala, man and boy.

He was there in the days of Dalkey Mitchell's. Now he's managing the senior hurlers as they prepare for Sunday's Evening Herald Dublin Senior Hurling Championship final against Kilmacud Crokes.

Harry's thoughts drift back through the decades.

"I often think of all the 'auld lads' that have since gone to their eternal reward, who started teams in Dalkey and Dun Laoghaire in the 50s and 60s," he says.

"How proud they must be when they look down and see the pile of cars and young lads in Hyde Road and Thomastown every Saturday.

"And to see all the children walking around the Borough with hurls and Cuala tops, not to mention Cuala lads playing in Croke Park on All-Ireland final days.

"And as for the present day, I can't thank enough all the mentors that put in time with the senior players when they were kids. This is why we are where we are now."

Harry thinks the little details paint the big picture. "We made sure to get the pitch right in Shankill so that we'd have a decent surface to train on over the summer."

And it was a long summer in the South County. "When we got out of the group and drew Craobh Chiaráin in the quarter-final, all we could think of was that match.

"We had such a long time to wait for it.

"It was a big relief when we won it, and the good thing then was the quick turn around to the semi-final against Crumlin.

"In fairness to the lads, they have knuckled down all summer. They gave up the drink and they did extra training. Anything we asked them to do, they did it."

When Cuala hit the jackpot the last time in 1994, Harry was on the management ticket, but he says "this is the best squad the club have ever had. Our good U21 team are such a part of it. They have grown up with us.

"We have a gameplan. It's not rigid, or anything like that. We just make sure that everybody on the pitch knows what they are doing.



Simplicity

"We let them think on their feet after that. With us, it's all about simplicity and honesty.

"This is the first time that we have been injury-free in recent years, and also the first time that Paul and Mark Schutte, David Treacy, Conor and Oisín Gough, Simon Timlin have all played on the same team in senior championship.

"We don't want to be the team that put Boden out of the Championship just for someone else to win it.

"We set out to change the image we had as a 'nice team'. I think we have achieved that. We now can mix it with the best."

Being the boss man is never a picnic.

"It's not easy telling somebody that they are not starting. It's tough, but the lads take it and get on with it. And you'd admire them even more for that."


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