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Dub hurlers 'made' to last?

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Anthony Daly, Dublin manager.  Picture: Ray Ryan/Sportsfile.

Anthony Daly, Dublin manager. Picture: Ray Ryan/Sportsfile.

Anthony Daly, Dublin manager. Picture: Ray Ryan/Sportsfile.

IN a perfect Sky Blue world, Anthony Daly would currently be fine-tuning preparations for an All-Ireland semi-final against the Cork hurlers this Sunday. And in a hypothetical world, if Jimmy Barry-Murphy had his way, he'd have "four or five" of Dublin's star men on his Cork panel.

Instead, while JBM gears up for Tipperary with a Rebel-only selection, Daly's name is being linked with potential vacancies in Galway as his future in the metropolitan hotseat remains open to widespread conjecture.

It will probably be another week or more before Dublin county board chiefs sit down with their small ball supremo of the past six years, to pore over the deflating season just gone and to figure out "What next?"

That review will inevitably focus on Dublin's last two matches, their most important games of the year - the 12-point Leinster final defeat to Kilkenny and the 13-point exit to Tipperary in the All-Ireland quarter-finals.

STAY

Central to their discussions, of course, will be the issue of whether (a) Daly wishes to extend his tenure into a seventh year and, in that eventuality, (b) whether the county board wants him to stay. Neither side has given much away in the 19 days since their doomed trip to Tipp.

But no matter who's at the helm in 2015, there are other key issues facing the county board. Firstly, there's the "big philosophical question" - as Donal Og Cusack termed it on The Sunday Game, on the night of the quarter-final - of Dublin's dual player policy at juvenile level. Specifically, should teenagers who flourish in both codes be forced to pick one sport at inter-county minor level?

That brings us to another fundamental issue, potentially linked to the above ... why did Dublin lack the assured first touch, instinctive flicks, tidiness in possession and clinical finishing of, say, their Tipp counterparts?

In the fallout from Thurles, a variety of pundits either stated or half-implied that Dublin had resembled "manufactured hurlers" on the day. Here is just a snapshot ...

CUSACK (on The Sunday Game): "You've a stereotypical view that exists out there in some parts, that Dublin are always 'made' hurlers. I never bought into that, but today there was a serious gulf in class - in terms of hurling ability."

GER LOUGHNANE (on the same programme): "They just haven't got that flick of the wrist, that kind of wrist-work that you associate with the Noel McGraths, the 'Bubbles' O'Dwyers of this world, and without that I doubt very much that they'll win an All-Ireland."

BRENDAN CUMMINS (at the Poc Fada launch): "That was the story of Sunday, how poor Dublin were ... Dublin looked manufactured on Sunday, which is something I haven't seen them look in a long while."

The inference that Dublin lack natural hurlers brought a swift and emphatic rebuttal from Brian Cody. Now Jimmy Barry Murphy has echoed the Kilkenny manager's stance.

The Leeside legend has first-hand experience of facing a Dublin team when their hurling is razor-sharp. Twelve months ago, the newly crowned Leinster champions went toe-to-toe with Cork in a compelling semi-final and were one point ahead when Ryan O'Dwyer's contentious sending-off for a second yellow left the Dubs on the numerical back foot.

CLINCHING

Even with 14 men, they were just one point adrift before Patrick Horgan's clinching 66th minute goal propelled Cork to a five-point victory.

Asked about this 'manufactured' tag, Barry-Murphy responded: "I don't know who said that, but I think Dublin are a very, very good team. I've the height of admiration for them. I think we were lucky to beat them last year. I'm not saying we wouldn't have beaten them (without the sending-off), but I think they've been a fantastic team over the last five years.

"They've won a Leinster title, they've won a National League title - they've won more than we have in that time. And I would have nothing but the height of respect for Anthony Daly and his team around him. The hurlers they have brought through have been fantastic, and I wouldn't agree that they're manufactured at all. I'd love to have four or five of their players on our panel on Sunday, I'd give anything to have them," he stressed.

Then JBM signed off by referencing that vital missing piece of the Dublin jigsaw. "I think they've equally good players playing with the football team, and if they had them they'd be some team. That's just the way it is, same as ourselves in Cork," he concluded.

As Dalo ponders, the big picture debate rumbles on.


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