Wednesday 23 May 2018

Dublin not a project - we want to win now, insists O'Donnell

Dublin hurler Eoghan O’Donnell at the GUI National Headquarters mark the commencement of the 2018 AIG Cups & Shields season and the AIG Irish Close Championship. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Dublin hurler Eoghan O’Donnell at the GUI National Headquarters mark the commencement of the 2018 AIG Cups & Shields season and the AIG Irish Close Championship. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

It's put to Eoghan O'Donnell that Dublin hurling has a 'project' feel to it just now. That it will take a couple of years for Pat Gilroy to get things exactly where he wants them so they can make a major assault on honours.

"I wouldn't say that at all," he replies.

"To be honest, it's the first time I would even have considered it a 'project' or anything like that. We've a very short hurling career and we're looking to win this year. We're not here to make up numbers, and we feel a Leinster title and beyond is within our grasp."

The common consensus is that Wexford, Galway and Kilkenny will take the top three spots in the Leinster group when it kicks off next month, leaving Dublin and Offaly to fight it out to avoid last place in the group and possible relegation.

And given Offaly's win over Gilroy's side in the early stages of the league, Dublin supporters could be forgiven if they were little nervous heading into championship opener against Kilkenny on May 13.

"We wouldn't feel that way at all. We block that stuff out, it's a cliché but you have to focus on yourselves and if we're listening to that stuff what chance are we giving ourselves going out?

"The standard of Galway, Wexford and Kilkenny is where you have to be; there is no point aiming for, say, a third spot. You have to aim to beat them so we don't think along those lines at all.

"You are using the motivation of winning rather than losing, you'd be looking at a Leinster title as motivation rather than relegation, we haven't thought about it much we have just been looking at Kilkenny and the first game."

And the Whitehall Colmcilles man suggests the teams in the province are much more tightly grouped than some may feel.

"People were talking about the decline of Kilkenny but I think everyone has lifted their game to match Kilkenny," he said at the launch of the 2018 AIG Golf Cups and Shields season.

"Some people wrote Kilkenny off at the start of the year and they threw it back in their faces so no one is going to make that mistake again.

Punches

"You have Galway, Wexford and Offaly and you saw how much Offaly improved their game; they gave us a good beating and then lost to Kilkenny in the last game of the league so there really is no picking your punches in the championship because you can easily fall to that trap door and get relegated."

Save some gym sessions, the squad have broken up to line out for their clubs in championship this month before they reassemble to prepare for the Parnell Park clash with the Cats.

And that will be the first time Dublin will have access to their Cuala contingent, with reports that just four of the back-to-back All-Ireland-winning side - Cian O'Callaghan, Seán Moran, Jake Malone and David Treacy - will join the panel. That would see regular midfielder Daragh O'Connell opt out and Mark Schutte continue with the footballers. But O'Donnell insists that isn't clear yet.

"I haven't spoken to Mark. He was with the footballers last year so I assume he extended his run with the footballers this year, I'm not sure if he has met Jim.

"In fairness to Pat, that's another thing he got right, he has given the Cuala lads a break to decide what they want to do. They haven't gotten a break at all so Pat has let them off.

"We'll have the old faithfuls in Cian O'Callaghan, Seán Moran, Oisín Gough and they will be back in but the other lads might need a small bit more time to make up their mind which is totally acceptable

"We haven't actually met as a collective group. We've met at puck-arounds and gyms and stuff.

"We'd prefer the Cuala lads to come back in fresh rather than coming back into us, be flogged . . . ok, you get an extra week with them but what real advantage is it if they're tired and they're resenting the system?"

Irish Independent

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