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O'Dwyer: Dubs must find drive

THERE are few forces so powerful in hurling than momentum and Dublin have, in the near past, sailed both happily on its prevailing winds and even more recently, struggled peri-lously against its dangerous backdraft.

"Everything was new," reflects Ryan O'Dwyer of the 2011 season, his first in blue after his permanent trip from Tipp, a time when Dublin were beginning to turn even the most aristocratic of hurling heads and which, when viewed through the kaleidoscope of misfortune that was 2012, must now seem a lifetime ago for those who made it happen.

"Every match we played, we were underdogs. People were saying, 'Dublin are doing well, but they're playing Tipp the next day, so they'll get beat'. Or, 'They're playing Cork, they're going to get beat'," says the Kilmacud man.

"And when we played all those teams and weren't, people were saying, 'Ah, it'll catch up with them in the Championship'. But we had that momentum on our side. We just went with it."

And when momentum is carrying you somewhere good, like to a League title or an All-Ireland semi-final, going 'with it' is the obvious choice.

 

IMPETUS

Trying to generate that impetus mid-season, as Dublin attempted after their Kilkenny nightmare in Nowlan Park last June, requires a different set of tools entirely. And when such a defeat comes so unexpectedly, as it did to Anthony Daly's team, mounting an opposite and equal reaction can be difficult.

Which is why the League semi-final defeat to Tipp was met with a long, pronounced and forlorn sigh from that hardy band of revellers who identify themselves as Dublin hurling folk.

With each Tipperary goal, with every display of individual superiority – both physically and in cold hard hurling terms – from a player in blue and gold over those in sky blue and navy, each unit of momentum garnered through the wins in Wexford and in Thurles against Limerick in the Division 1B League final seemed to disintegrate.

"I wouldn't say it's the be-all and end-all," O'Dwyer counters. "You could look at two years ago and say the momentum was great. But there was a big gap between the League final and the first round of the Championship.

"It's the same this year. It's hard to keep the momentum going. You could go back to your clubs and not see each for three weeks. You go back to the county then and the momentum is gone.

"So there are certain points in the year where you stop and re-evaluate things again. And after the Tipp game was one of those."

For very obvious reasons, defeats to Tipperary taste that bit more vinegary for O'Dwyer than anyone else in the Dublin camp, but he was one of the few (the only?) who recalls the event with any kind of satisfaction.

A shoulder operation undergone last November preceded a lengthy recovery which bled into the League and only against Carlow in Dublin's penultimate regulation league match on March 31 did he see game time for the first time.

"Even before I played a match, I said to myself, 'Yeah, I'm ready to go'. But within two minutes of the Carlow game, I was flat out. I was shattered. It's totally different.

"That was the blow out I needed. Then, in the Limerick game, I came on at half-time. I was very flat out as well. But it was great to get that half of really physical and intense hurling.

"So even though the result and the performance was disappointing against Tipp, I still take some personal satisfaction in that I got 45 or 50 minutes out of it."

The injury, a lingering one for the last year, is according to O'Dwyer, "a thing of the past". "And I'm not getting strapped up, which last year I was – getting strapped up before training and matches. Now, I can hit lads are hard as I want," he laughs. "So it's a good thing."

 

PERMANENTLY

There was a time when the word of RO'D decreed that Dublin would win an All-Ireland. Not next year or the year after or when the next batch of minors sprouted more permanently through to senior ... but this year and now.

Understandably, the hubris has mellowed.

"There was a bit of hype about it last year. And we kinda bought into it as well," he admits. "We thought we were better than we were. This year, I wouldn't say we're coming in under the radar.

"We won Division 1B and we won the Walsh Cup, so we're the only team in the country with two trophies.

"We won what was available to us. I know when we came to the semi-final against Tipp, they were a great challenge and it was great to get that game. But our original sight was on Division 1B. Everything after that was a bonus.

"After we won Division 1B, our sole focus was on Wexford in the Championship. You can't take your eye off that or you can't look to a day before or after that," O'Dwyer concludes. "Because there might not be a day after that."


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