Most All-Ireland winning sides have their hard luck stories, those players who for one reason or another didn’t walk up the Hogan Stand steps in September.
Dublin’s 2011 triumph had its fair share. There was Paul Griffin, who was named captain earlier in the campaign, only to rupture his cruciate and miss out on the rest of the season.
Then there were the likes of Darren Daly, Paddy Andrews and Alan Hubbard who were dropped just prior to the Championship. Ouch.
The timing of Hubbard’s demotion couldn’t have been worse. Pat Gilroy made the dreaded phone call to him on the day he turned 24.
“It was,” confirms Hubbard. “Happy Birthday! But at the end of the day, that’s water under the bridge. In fairness, I’ve talked to Pat since and he has been very good to me.
“I’m just putting the head down and my club is the number one. If I did get a call with Dublin, I would be more than happy to go back and play.”
The Ballymun Kickhams defender didn’t attend any of the county’s Championship games, not even the All-Ireland final. “It was quite hard at the time, to be honest with you.”
All being told, the axing still rankles. “Ah, it does. In hindsight now, it actually probably helped me because when I went back to the club, I was more determined to get myself fitter and stronger.”
Currently, he’s not among the seven Ballymun Kickham players that will be soon called into the Dublin panel but he holds out hope. “I think I’m playing reasonably well; I might get a call.”
Named club player of the year in 2012 and chosen as the best club right-half back in the county the last two seasons, Hubbard has never enjoyed his football more.
As well as being part of an admired defence that has gone five county and provincial championship games without conceding a goal, he has been providing plenty from an attacking perspective.
At 5ft8in, his height may have counted against him but he agrees being a jack of all trades may have counted against him under Gilroy. “That is the one thing that, in the back of my mind... I played two seasons at corner back and I played wing-forward and corner-forward in another season. And personally, I don’t feel that that’s my best position. I’d love to get a chance to play wing-back with Dublin.”
He look at his clubmate Philly McMahon for inspiration: “Philly was there under Pillar (Caffrey) in 2008 and when Gilroy came in for 2009, I was brought in and Philly missed out.
“Then Philly played the best year I’ve ever seen him play and he was called back down and established himself as one of the best defenders in Dublin. So maybe that will help me push on and give me the kick I need.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved
More in this section