It’s time for Daly to divorce dispirited Dubs

I have some advice for Anthony Daly this Monday morning.

He may or may not have made up his mind about staying on in the Dublin job but my advice to him is to run from it, as far and as fast as he can.

In the last two championship games in which they’ve played, these players have left him down badly, they’ve left themselves down badly, they’ve left Dublin hurling down badly.

Whether this is Anthony Daly’s fault or the players’ fault I don’t know, I have no insight into that, but they didn’t come anywhere near the level of performance they reached in winning last year’s Allianz Hurling League, nor anywhere near their performance in coming so close to Tipperary in the All-Ireland semi-final.

I’m trying to find reasons why Dublin have been so poor this year and I’m wondering, have they done far too much gym-work? They looked heavy-legged, ponderous in Cusack Park, much as they looked heavy-legged and ponderous against Kilkenny. Their touch was brutal, and their shooting dreadful.

Another failing in this Dublin side is the lack of leadership on the field, though I’d excuse Joey Boland here, and to a lesser extent Peter Kelly. What’s happened to Liam Rushe? Gone from All Star to non-entity in a season, it can’t be old age because he’s only 22. So what is it? Alan McCrabbe, David Treacy, Dotsy O’Callaghan, Paul Ryan — these were all beginning to establish themselves as stars, now they’ve disappeared.

Are they sulking? It can’t be Anthony’s comments about them after the Kilkenny loss, that they looked like a team he’d picked up at the Red Cow on the way to the match (though I think those comments should never have been made), because they’ve been playing like this all year.

Anthony and his mentors weren’t without blame on Saturday evening either. I felt they panicked on the line. Their five substitutions in about 15 minutes disrupted the team and sent a wrong message to those on the pitch, instilling fear when what was needed was confidence.

All in all a bad night for Anthony Daly and for Dublin, and that’s why I think it’s time for a divorce.

To Clare, and advice to Davy Fitzgerald. If he had picked this team to face Waterford, Clare would now be in a Munster final — never again be afraid to go with youth. Another word of advice, allow them a little more self-expression. When they had the full complement of players on the pitch and were trying to implement the game-plan, the seemed afraid to let go. When they went down to 14 men, however, and began to play a little more instinctively, it paid massive dividends for Clare. A marriage of sorts is what I’m advising, between the control game and the instinctive. Don’t wait for another accident, another sending-off, to let that happen.

Having said that I take my hat off to Davy and the selectors that they did make those calls before the game, and made them again during the game. I had advised playing Pat Donnellan at centre-back — he did a huge job there. Bringing in Pat O’Connor to corner-back also worked and he should be left there. Sean Collins in midfield was the right call also, and John Conlon; their deployment of this guy for the full 70 minutes was spot on, as was the use of ball up to Darach Honan.

Man-of-the-match for me though was Brendan Bugler. Where Dublin sorely lacked for leaders Clare had them in abundance but none more so than this man. In the second half especially he was magnificent.

A real plus for Clare, they ended up with four of last year’s minor team on the field — Aaron Cunningham, Colm Galvin, Seadna Morey and the star of that minor team, Tony Kelly. The maturity Kelly displayed in stepping up to that 20m free, the confidence and the courage to goal it, it just goes to show — if you’re good enough, age is an irrelevance.

Final word of advice for Davy — calm it a bit on the sideline. There are bigger days ahead for this young team, they’re going to need cool heads guiding them. Final word on the evening — the Clare crowd. They were fantastic, really got behind the team, really lifted them.

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