Wednesday 21 August 2019

'You can see how much Dublin hurling means to him' - Chris Crummey feeding off Mattie Kenny's love for the game

Dublin's Chris Crummey. Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin's Chris Crummey. Photo: Sportsfile
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

There were no big rousing speeches in the build-up to their do-or-die Leinster SHC defeat of Galway, but Chris Crummey knew it meant more than normal to Dublin hurling boss Mattie Kenny.

It was always going to have added significance for Kenny given that he hails from Galway - as does selector Greg Kennedy - and Crummey could sense that it was a particularly big deal for the pair.

"I probably did, to be honest with you," Crummey says of whether he noticed the game's importance to Kenny and Kennedy. "The week of the game you could sort of see... I suppose it's natural.

"I remember in my first year on the panel, we played Clare, down in Clare, I was only on the panel I'd say two weeks under (Anthony) Daly and I remember Daly going on about the streets down there, walking in through Ennis.

"Now I wasn't on the panel on the day but he was talking about that and you could just see how much it meant to him. It was sort of similar with Mattie and Greg... 'Alright, this is Galway'.

"They probably wanted to beat their home county even more because there's so much at stake. So I'd say I did notice it because they're probably just that bit more on edge going into the game."

Overlooked

Having served as a coach with Galway under Anthony Cunningham, Kenny was overlooked for the top job when Micheál Donoghue was handed the reins after Cunningham's controversial ousting in 2015.

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New pastures were trod with his remarkable success as Cuala boss - leading them to three Dublin SHC titles in a row and back-to-back All-Ireland triumphs - before replacing Pat Gilroy as Dublin supremo.

As captain, Crummey has more dealings with Kenny - who still commutes from Galway for training - than most, and he feels his passion has rubbed off on a Dubs squad which broke the glass ceiling against Galway after a series of agonising near misses.

"He has a brilliant hurling brain, he just loves hurling and he has really instilled that in the group. His attention to detail in terms of our own processes and our own tactics and obviously opposition analysis as well is second to none. You can see how much hurling means to him.

"You can sort of see how much Dublin hurling means to him as well. He definitely has a love for Dublin hurling and he's doing it because he believes in us and he believes that there's great potential within our squad."

Dublin's place in the preliminary All-Ireland quarter-final - where they will meet the winners of Sunday's Joe McDonagh Cup final between Laois and Westmeath - is largely down to Crummey.

The Lucan Sarsfields powerhouse burst forward from half-back to create two pivotal second-half moments - winning a penalty that was converted before scoring a late goal which swung things away from Galway's grasp.

Parnell Park exploded at the final whistle with chants of 'Come on you Boys in Blue' echoing around Donnycarney, but Crummey, who is currently undertaking a Master's at DCU, admits it was "bittersweet" when they learned that hadn't reached the Leinster final.

"Just after the final whistle, your initial thought is, 'Yes, we're in a Leinster final. Brilliant'. And then 15 minutes later when you hear you're not in a Leinster final, it's a bit bittersweet," Crummey admits.

"But, looking back, when there's four teams on five points, would you take third? You would. Because you could be in Galway's position. You could be out. But our goal was to win a Leinster."

Missing out on the chance to lift the Bob O'Keeffe Cup is "disappointing" but Crummey won't dwell on it, nor will he be watching on as he prefers to "switch off" on days when he's not training. He'll most likely be found on a golf course on Sunday.

There's no fear of Dublin's eyes straying away from Laois or Westmeath, however.

"We played Laois twice this year and won by one score both times. So that tells you the level they're at.

"Westmeath are at a similar level. We know we have to be at our best to win. We played Westmeath and Laois at underage - there was a particularly strong Westmeath team at my age and we were lucky to get over them. It's nothing new and we know how difficult a task it will be."

Chris Crummey was speaking at the launch of Leisureplex's 'Share Your Summer' campaign, where teens can win a range of prizes by sharing their Leisureplex experience on social media. Visit www.leisureplex.ie for more information

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