It’s fair to say that Ger Cunningham and his Dublin Senior Hurling Panel have been handed ample time to reflect on 2016, and more importantly some extra days, weeks and months to prepare for next years calendar of campaigns.
For some of the panel the feeling will be still raw after their defeat at the hands of Cork in Pairc Ui Rinn in the All Ireland Round One Qualifier at the start of the month, not least from the manner which it came about.
Losing Chris Crummey after 2 yellow cards in the first half was a coffin nail that, despite Dublin’s best efforts, eventually had them on the back foot with Cork finally seeing the Dubs off by 3 points.
Dublin defender Liam Rushe was inches from the incident that had referee Paud O’Dwyer reaching into his pocket for the second time, signalling for Crummey to leave the field.
“Look, there was nothing in it.” Rush explained to Independent.ie.
“We all know one of the major problems in the GAA is refereeing inconsistencies.”
“I was right behind it, I was the next man going in”
The Palmerston club man believes that, had Dublin been successful in the game against Cork, they would have faired better in Round Two than the victors did against Wexford in the following fixture, even if it would have been Clare or Limerick they’d have faced.
But a combination of the hype of Ger Cunningham playing Cork, his native county, in championship, in their own front yard, and losing a vital piece of Dublin’s puzzle so early on was all too much for one evening’s entertainment.
“We fought as hard as we could and we were a few refereeing decisions away from a win.”
Despite leaving the competition earlier than he’s become accustomed to, Rushe firmly believes that the changes Ger Cunningham has made this year, his second in charge, will greatly stand to them in the future.
“Last year was Ger’s first year and he inherited a panel, and this year he put his own stamp on it but there were 10 U21s on the panel, I think”
“This year and last year will stand to a lot of them and hopefully we can bring in a few more.”
Chris Bennett and Sean Tracey, both U21 panel members, have been used to great effect in Senior games and are definitely ones to watch. And with both Dublin’s U21 and Minor Hurling teams still contesting All Ireland competitions, it will give Dublin hurling fans and the Senior back room staff something to feel good about for some time to come.
“It is a good team and it will be strong again next year. We’ve been unfortunate at underage for the last few years but it’s all about bringing through two, three or four underage players from every minor or U-21 team”.