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Danny's having a small ball


Danny Sutcliffe, Dublin. Picture: Brian Lawless/Sportsfile.

Danny Sutcliffe, Dublin. Picture: Brian Lawless/Sportsfile.

Danny Sutcliffe, Dublin. Picture: Brian Lawless/Sportsfile.

DANNY Sutcliffe is far enough down the road less travelled by Dublin's budding dual prospects to know he hasn't a single regret about his choice of sporting avenue.

Nor does he possess a modicum of doubt that hurling, rather than football, is where his primal ambitions reside.

"It was always going to be hurling," he says in conversation with The Herald.

"It was only ever a case of whether I would keep a bit of football going. Just the enjoyment of it.

"I don't enjoy football as much as hurling. I would be getting cursed because I don't really play (football) with the club any more.

"I just said when I came onto the panel, I may as well just give everything to the one cause. I'm going to stay with that."

It helps, of course, that in his first year, Sutcliffe walked straight into the team and now, in his second, he has been arguably Dublin's best player. Fish don't take to water with the same impressive haste.

"Anthony Daly has given me so much insight to the game," he says of his rather speedy acclimatisation process. "Coming up, I had all these pre-determined notions about what it is going to be like. He let me know that it's a lot simpler than you think.

"Don't complicate it and go out and play with the club when there are 20 people watching. I've learned so much off him in such a short space of time."



Sutcliffe was, however, considered sufficiently promising as a footballer to be invited onto the Dublin minor panel in his first year at the grade in 2009 by then manager Gerry McEntee. But he lasted just three months of training and by the time his second season at the grade came around, his studies and devotion to hurling had taken over.

Which is why each time a dual Dublin gael goes the way of football he describes it as "a killer".

"You never hold it against them," he stresses.

"It's great to see Ciarán (Kilkenny) doing so well with the senior footballers and don't you know that Cormac (Costello) will too.

"But it just reduces your chances of building a better squad. The teams we want to compete with are Kilkenny and Tipperary, and any good minors they have are developing and then going on to the senior panel whereas we're losing one or two every year.

"Eric Lowndes; he's a savage hurler as well and we won't see any of him. Not to be greedy or anything but if they play with the U21s, it will be something. It will keep them hurling anyway."

Sutcliffe is enthused, though, about the prospect of Kilkenny, Costello and Lowndes playing with the Dublin U21s (the team which he captains) next Tuesday and beyond.

Aligned to that, Rory O'Carroll has expressed his wish numerous times to hurl with Dublin some day, even if each passing year, that particular hope fades a little more.

Ditto Kilkenny, who is, perhaps, young, talented and dedicated enough to play both, at least for a couple of seasons. And it would hardly rank as a surprise to see Tomás Brady back swinging ash in the blue and navy.

For now, though, the current senior group are building up to their provincial opener, with noticeably less fuss or fanfare than their entry into Leinster last year when they were playing Laois.

Part of that is probably attributable to how Dublin performed against Kilkenny and Clare afterwards. Some of it, no doubt, is down to their heavy defeat to Tipperary in the league semi-final

"The only positive you can take out of it is we now know where the bar is at and we know how far we are away from it.

"It was a bit of an eye-opener, especially coming from 1B. They let you know very quickly with those goals," says Sutcliffe who, in reality, was the only Dub to emerge from that match with his reputation in tact and probably enhanced.



"Maybe because there were no consequences with it. I don't know," he says, trailing off. "I treated it like any other game.

"But it was a poor start. We were never going to pull it back. I've been asked about it so many times now.

"The club break came at a good time because if you go back training after the Tipperary game, you might be a bit deflated for the first few games.

"When you go back to the club and there are championship games, the appetite comes back that bit quicker."

For what it's worth, Dublin have been to Wexford twice already this year, winning in both the Walsh Cup and the League, matches which have, according to Sutcliffe, precisely no relevance this week.

"Their form in the league is irrelevant because we know what they're going to be like on June 8.

"We have to make a big push and try and get a performance ourselves without worrying about them. We must be the best we can be and hopefully the scoreboard will look after itself."