Sport nowadays sees many managers looking to build a strong squad aiming to create strong competition for places with all squad members fighting hard for a place in the starting fifteen. But the role of ‘impact subs’ is ever growing.
Dunford was an All-Star nominee back in 2015, but has found himself in and out of the Déise side since then. Dunford was quick to point to the importance of the substitutes bench to the Waterford team;
“The subs in our team are absolutely vital to the way we play. I think it’s 1-18 in the last few games that the subs are after contributing, it’s a massive thing.
You have to do your job and accept that if you’re not in the starting 15, you could be called upon at any stage and you have to go in and do your job.”
Dunford was also quick to point out that not making the starting team has seen his attitude and performances in training improve. He would prefer to be starting, but he is doing all he can to make his way back into the first fifteen.
“You’re doing your drills there at 110 per cent to try and show the lads that you’re putting in a massive effort,”
“You’d miss not being on the starting 15 but I’m delighted to be getting games still, getting in there to do a job.
“Thankfully the subs are doing an effective job lately, we’re coming in and happy enough but every player wants to be on the starting 15.”
Finally, Dunford highlighted the importance of having impact players. As a player renowned for his pace, Dunford is the last type of player that defenders want to see coming in with 20 minutes remaining. Changing the pattern of a game is important on Dunford stated that Waterford have a lot of effective players in this area;
“The way we’re playing, you need to change it after 40-45 minutes and get fresh legs in. We’re lucky enough to have a few quick lads to come in and change the game.”
On the Cork side, Killian Burke, was a permanent fixture in the side last season. But the return to fitness of Colm Spillane has seen Burke spend time on the sideline for the championship to date. Burke spoke on the importance of training to Cork;
“Every Tuesday and Thursday, I always say is kind of an All-Ireland final for me. You are really trying to push the lads. I’d like to say that our forwards get a big benefit from marking us as well.
I wouldn’t say there is any less motivation for me to turn up at training. If called upon I know what’s expected.
Our training games this year actually have probably been a big difference, they are massively competitive games and that’s always great, everybody trying to get on the panel.”
And while Cork training is competitive in order for players to make the match-day squad or starting fifteen, Burke, just like Dunford, spoke of the importance of the full squad of 26 players in the winning of games.
“Everybody is ready to come on and make their contribution. If you look at our games this year a lot of our subs have come on and made big impacts, which is great.”
While all eyes will be on the team selections ahead of Sunday’s game. It will be interesting to see what type of impacts the respective benches will have. Michael Cahalane, Brian O’Halloran and Luke O’Farrell have been impact players for both sides so far this season. Now it will be interesting to see if Dunford and Burke can have a bearing on the game.