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'Leader' Rushe to captain Dubs again


Liam Rushe will captain Dublin this year. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Liam Rushe will captain Dublin this year. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Liam Rushe will captain Dublin this year. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Ger Cunningham has confirmed that Liam Rushe will captain the Dublin senior hurlers again this year - and described the centre-back as an "inspirational leader on and off the pitch".

Rushe was co-captain with Peter Kelly in 2015 before assuming sole responsibility last season.

And as Cunningham attempts to oversee a period of transition for the Sky Blues, he was keen to retain the continuity that Rushe brings to the captain's role.

"He's been a good captain for us for the last couple of years - our inspirational leader on and off the pitch," Cunningham said.

"It's a continuation from last year - we needed some continuity really and he's a stand-out man within the group."

Dublin begin their Allianz HL Division 1A campaign at Croke Park on Saturday when All-Ireland champions Tipperary provide the opposition.

But Cunningham will have to plan without his eight Cuala players who are preparing for an AIB All-Ireland club semi-final against Slaughtneil on February 25. Cian O'Callaghan, Paul Schutte, Sean Moran, Oisin Gough, Darragh O'Connell, Jake Malone, Mark Schutte and David Treacy will link up with the Dublin panel when their club campaign comes to an end.

Cunningham had checked on the availability of three other Cuala players for the 2017 season but Colm Cronin is tied up with study commitments, Sean Treacy is taking time out after Cuala's club odyssey and Con O'Callaghan will join the county's senior football panel.

In addition, Cunningham is without injured quartet Eamonn Dillon, Cian Boland, Chris Bennett and Daire Gray, a minor last year.

Cunningham explained: "Cian is probably 4-6 weeks away, 'Trollier' (Dillon) might be available for our second game (against Cork) and Chris Bennett is a couple of weeks away.

"Daire Gray was back in this week and is hoping to play Freshers with DCU next Monday."

Against that backdrop, Tipp will start as favourites to open their League campaign with victory but Cunningham is relishing the challenge. "We're playing the All-Ireland champions in Croke Park, in their first match since winning the All-Ireland title. We know the challenge facing us but it's one we're really looking forward to.

"Nobody is giving us a chance against the champions but the guys that have come in have done well."

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