Friday 22 November 2019

Rushe happy to risk league losses as Dubs target summer

Dublin hurler Liam Rushe with Emily Cryan (left), aged 11, and Liam Kingham, aged 11, from Na Fianna at the launch of the National Go Games in Croke Park
Dublin hurler Liam Rushe with Emily Cryan (left), aged 11, and Liam Kingham, aged 11, from Na Fianna at the launch of the National Go Games in Croke Park
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

For Liam Rushe, it's a measure of how far Dublin have come as a hurling force.

In the early part of his career, which coincided with Dublin's revival, it used to be that a date with one of the 'big three' would be a free shot where nothing was expected from them except a spirited show.

Now that outlook has changed. Silverware and big scalps mean Dublin have bigger and bolder ambitions.

They face Cork in a couple of weeks in a league semi-final in Nowlan Park, but like the rest of the league campaign, that game will be used to try different faces and new combinations ahead of the real stuff in their Leinster championship opener against Galway on May 31.

Dublin's horizon is set well beyond where it once was.

Confidence

"A few years ago we were looking for confidence, and confidence comes from winning," Rushe said, at the launch of the National Go Games week.

"Dublin hadn't won a major trophy in years so we definitely did target the league - and there is a marked difference now.

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"We had that difference under (Anthony) Daly in the last couple of years too so there wasn't as big an emphasis on league, we shook off losses if they occurred.

"Sometimes new managers come in and you're looking to build confidence and there's a massive emphasis on the league, but the way Ger (Cunningham) went about it, there's been four or five or six changes every game and we're more looking to test out everybody and bring in a style of play rather than win every day."

Over the weekend, Dublin at least put one issue to bed. Their record in league games in Croke Park in recent seasons had been poor, as they hadn't won there since the Leinster final in 2013.

And it looked even worse when compared to their form in Parnell Park, where they sent a number of strong teams packing.

But on Saturday evening, they were in control for the 70 minutes against Limerick as they made light of the conditions. At half-time they were six points up and they streaked off into the distance on the restart.

"I don't read too much into venues," Rushe countered. "I think you can get really hung up on it. Some people and teams do, and looking at records we probably are good in Parnell and not as strong maybe in Croker.

"But I don't think that has anything to do with the pitch or style of play. Maybe we just come up against better opposition in Croker.

"We were happy enough (after beating Limerick). We got off to a good start but we probably would have liked to have scored a couple of goals and created a more few chances. That's two games on the trot we didn't make too many chances, but aside from that it's hard to find something to fault."

Rushe is sure that Mark Schutte can help them provide more of a goal threat. The Cuala clubman was forced to miss last year's championship through injury but was in fine form on Saturday night, hitting 1-5 from play in a man-of-the-match performance.

"I'm excited to watch him. It's great to be looking at him in full flow. I tipped him last year for a breakout year and it was just bad unbelievable luck to dislocate his shoulder in the first ball he got in the first championship game," said Rushe.

"If we can wrap him up in cotton wool until the championship and then break him out. . . He's looking good."

The semi-final against Cork will be used as another building block. The Rebels put 21 points on Dublin in a single half when they met in the league proper but Rushe wants the Dubs to be coming right later in the year.

"Someone already asked me are we out for revenge," he smiled. "We really don't put too much on league games, we had a bad day and obviously we'll look to do better.

"We did against Galway and Limerick and we'll look to give a better showing against Cork - but we might save that for championship."

Dublin face Cork in the first semi-final on April 19 at 2.0 followed by the clash between Tipperary and Waterford at 4.0. The games will be staged as a double-header in Kilkenny.

Irish Independent

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