With the recent appointment of Ger Cunningham as Dublin’s senior hurling boss, it is no secret that he has his work cut out for him. Ashling Dalton discusses three issues Cunningham must sort out.
The Anthony Daly era has seen the Blues make massive strides in becoming one of hurling’s top powers and how Cunningham goes about building on that success will define his reign as manager. There is a number of key issues he will have sort out to ensure the Capital’s hurlers see further success.
1. The football issue
When asked which team is more supported by the Capital’s population, Football is the winner every time. Crowds tends to be bigger whenever Jim Gavin’s team tog out.
While hurling is becoming more and more popular in Dublin, it is still being eclipsed by its Football counterpart. For Ger Cunningham to heighten the appeal of hurling, he will have to find ways of luring the likes of Ciaran Kilkenny into the hurling cause; a player of his stature will go a long way in fixing the power struggle between the two codes.
It was a problem that was evident during Anthony Daly’s reign and it is still apparent to this day. Dublin don’t seem to be able to produce good seasons back-to-back, which is a major reason they are considered under-achievers.
Case in point, they has a massive year in 2013, finally getting one over on Kilkenny, winning a much sought-after Leinster title and coming so close to reaching an All-Ireland final.
Fast forward to 2014, Dublin fell flat in the Leinster final and even flatter against Tipperary. Ger Cunningham needs to devise an effective year-long plan that ensures that Dublin do not a) peak too soon and b) succumb to staleness if faced with that dreaded five-week break after a provincial final. If this issue can be rectified, Dublin will stay competitive for longer.
3. Make more use of a flourishing under-age structure
One feature that has contributed to the Renaissance of Dublin hurling is that fact that there is major work going into their under-age systems. The likes of Ciaran Kilkenny and Cormac Costello are products of this structure, which shows that Dublin are featuring more and more often in All-Ireland minor and under 21 competitions. This can only be good for the county.
However, it has to be said that this could be utilized more at senior grade. A lot of the current senior players are either in their mid-2o’s and older and some of them come from outside Dublin but if younger players were drafted in, it gives Dublin a stronger panel, which is one of the keys to success. It is definitely something for Cunningham to think about.
Ashling Dalton, Pundit Arena