Dublin's disappeared: The alternative hurling XV that would give the current side a run for its money
IT was in January, after a Walsh Cup match with UCD in Parnell Park, when Ger Cunningham was asked for a peek at his blueprints for 2017.
The early part of winter was nuclear, darkened by the back swipes of some of those who had been axed and others who were alarmed by the number and identity of the chopped.
It was put to Cunningham that with so much experience now outside the squad and by consequence, such a high concentration of unproven youth within, his project was now longer term.
“We still feel they’re the best hurlers that we’ve seen in Dublin,” the Dublin manager asserted.
“It’s probably a combination of both. Evolution happens in every team.
“All these guys that have come in have done very well. Obviously the fact that they’ve come in will hopefully mean that they’re the next generation of Dublin hurlers.
“We’re looking at the here and now though, we’re not looking too much at the future.”
Sunday is that here and now. This is Cunningham’s third year in charge of Dublin and as yet, only Limerick in 2015 can be counted as a summer conquest.
The team have been relegated for just the second time since the League split into a two-tiered
topflight and it’s been a while, perhaps pre-Daly, since Dublin have been so unfancied for a Championship match against someone other than Kilkenny.
That could be deemed an unfortunate by-product of transition were it not for the fact that that process has been hugely accelerated by management, and only partly by design. The team in the adjoining graphic (right) could feasibly line out against Galway in Tullamore this Sunday.
Some were dropped. Others went of their own volition.
The two are closely connected.
When Paul Schutte said on St Patrick’s Day: “I’d be confident about where Dublin hurling is headed,” after Cuala’s All-Ireland club win, it was assumed that he would be part of that movement.
His brother Mark’s appearance at Dublin football training at the start of last week put paid to the idea that exams or fatigue were the reason he wouldn’t hurl this summer.
Danny Sutcliffe’s appearance in the New York football team that played Sligo a couple of weeks ago in Gaelic Park was another dagger in the heart of Dublin hurling people who had gleefully watched his sensational rise.
“I know he was thinking of really trying to get back involved last year,” explained Conal Keaney, another with the form and experience to make a difference for Dublin on Sunday.
“But I think personalities really came into it and they just clashed.”
Naturally, Cunningham deserves credit for bringing through and improving a number of players who will form the spine of the Dublin team for the next decade.
But another bad summer with so many capable hurlers not involved would reflect poorly in what is a make-or-break season.
It’s quite the gamble.
Alternative Dublin Hurling 15
1. Alan Nolan
2. Paul Schutte
3. Peter Kelly
4. Shane Durkin
5. Joey Boland
6. Michael Carton
7. Simon Lambert
8. Daire Plunkett
9. Johnny McCaffrey
10. Sean Treacy
11. Colm Cronin
12. Danny Sutcliffe
13. Paul Ryan
14. Conal Keaney
15. Mark Schutte
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