Thursday 22 August 2019

O'Donnell wants more than moral victories

Eoghan O’Donnell at Croke Park, where Bord Gáis Energy announced a three-year extension of its sponsorship of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. Photo: Sportsfile
Eoghan O’Donnell at Croke Park, where Bord Gáis Energy announced a three-year extension of its sponsorship of the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

In the less-rarified surroundings of Division 1B, Dublin made a solid if unspectacular start to life under Mattie Kenny. But as the league wore on, Dublin grew to finish top of 1B.

They went down in the league semi-final stage to eventual champions Limerick by just three points, meaning they turn their attentions to the championship with plenty to be optimistic about.

However, after a summer of near-misses and what might have been in 2018, which saw them lead down the home straight against Wexford, Kilkenny and Galway in the Leinster championship only to come out on the wrong side, full-back Eoghan O'Donnell warned the county are out for more than that this time around.

"I mean we put a block on it in terms of the moral victory side of things," he said as Bord Gáis Energy extended their sponsorship of the All-Ireland hurling championship to 2022.

Trying

"We lost by a point in a few games, we were up in the 70th minute - we're just trying to stay away from all of that.

"We want to focus on going forward because I think it makes sense that if you're going to the 70th minute and you're thinking loads about games where you came out on the wrong side, it can kind of get in to your head a bit.

"So we're just trying to block out that last five minutes or that moral-victory talk from last year, which I think is fair enough."

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Those late fade-outs are one area O'Donnell and Co are targeting this time around.

"I think once you are aware of it and you have 15 players focusing on the same thing it can be quite powerful.

"So we know coming in to the final stretch that all the players are on the same page. And it is drilled in to us that this is where we come alive.

"That's quite a powerful thing, that you are looking forward to the closeness of the thing rather than dreading it."

Former Kilkenny star and current Laois manager Eddie Brennan was less than impressed with Dublin's approach in their league semi-final defeat to the Treaty men but O'Donnell certainly hasn't taken the criticism to heart.

"That wouldn't have been in our mindset going down," O'Donnell explained.

"We went down to win the game. I think what happened was we actually play a similar system to Limerick.

"We play our half-forward line lying a bit deeper and Limerick do the same.

"So it just ended up that that middle 20 (metres) was very congested. And Seán Moran just sat in the centre-back position.

"People are entitled to their opinion but we had no intention of going down to play a negative style.

"We don't play a sweeper or haven't. It's just the way things played out on the day."

Dublin head to Nowlan Park to face Kilkenny on May 11 in their opening round of the Leinster SHC clash and O'Donnell is hopeful they will have extra options for that - with Mark Schutte, Conal Keaney and Liam Rushe on the comeback trail.

"If Mark, 'Rushie' and Keaney come back, it only adds to competition, which greatly increases the standard of training.

"If you look at the Dublin footballers, the reason they're as competitive as they are is they're all fighting for places in training."

Irish Independent

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