At 8:38 yesterday morning, the phone chimed in receipt of a text from an eloquent press colleague of Dublin persuasion.
When we say text, we tell a lie: messages such as these ones read more like odes than anything else. You want to be sitting down before thumbing it open.
Usually, they arrive the morning of the footballers’ Championship games, extolling the virtues of the team and conveying the hopes for the afternoon ahead, but yesterday was different. Just like the day after Pat Gilroy-led All-Ireland success in September 2011, the hurlers’ triumph called for a break in routine.
In this particular offering, Anthony Daly was revered like never before. Part of it went: “AD, the initials that tell us of a new calendar, the saviour is amongst us. A Banner man called Daly. He’s a Dub now, our Anto. Some days are fine, fewer are magical, a tiny number are gifts from the heavens. July 7 2013 arrived parcelled in Sky Blue ribbons. A joy and a privilege it was to unwrap and feel alive. Alike like never before.”
Grandiose? Absolutely and yet elegantly so, confirming that in several Dublin pubs Daly will likely never have to put his hand in his pocket again.
A Leinster title on top of the National League one two years ago has a select band of hurling zealots in the capital walking on air right now.
The bandwagon is well and truly rolling and over the next five weeks will gain frightening momentum. But Daly will be prepared. Anyone who saw how he grated at the pats on the back received following Dublin’s close-run defeat by Tipperary in the 2011 All-Ireland semi-final will realise how much he wants to go one step further.
Could last Sunday or the Saturday before that have been done without him? Unlikely. It’s not that he’s just cultivated an environment of respect but of genuine brotherhood too. He calls the players by their nicknames as much as he makes up his own for them and they have more than Dalo for him and yet the lines are never blurred so much as to compromise his authority.
Twelve months ago and half an hour or so after Dublin’s soulless performance in Cusack Park, we spoke with Niall Corcoran about the need for Daly to remain on.
“We don’t want to lose him — he’s been phenomenal for us over the last four years,” he said. “He’s been a breath of fresh air and what he’s done for Dublin hurling you can’t put into words.”
The likes of our learned fellow member of the Fourth Estate can make a decent stab at doing just that but this column is more concerned with what Daly has done for himself.
Sunday was redemption for a manager who has always been rightly regarded but might have had reason to doubt himself after those years of Munster defeats in Clare and then last season’s difficulties when Dublin’s bubble appeared to have burst.
Those dark days would hit him hard. He would take himself off to a bolthole and maintain radio silence before he could surface.
On Sunday, though, he was front and centre after winning a provincial crown in the best way possible and the hurling world smiled for him as much as for Dublin.
It helped that it’s so easy to like Daly. If his old team-mate Davy Fitzgerald wears his heart on his sleeve, Daly’s is situated just an inch or two further up the arm. There is no pretence.
Right now, there is probably no more gregarious or affable a personality in hurling than the Clarecastle man. But it’s the competitor in him that completes the picture. He might crack jokes with Liam Dunne as their teams lock horns but he’ll square up to Brian Cody on a sideline too.
It’s in Daly the victorious manager that we once again see the pioneering captain Ger Loughnane charged with leading the Banner wagons cutting their trails into the earth.
That bit of nostalgia is almost as sweet as that delicious moment Jimmy Grey handed over Bob O’Keeffe to Johnny McCaffrey.
No easy way back for troubled Tipperary
The press who congregated for Eamon O’Shea’s post-match comments in Nowlan Park last Saturday evening were privy to an extraordinary outburst of defiance.
Unprompted, the Tipp manager made an impassioned and, it must be stated, slightly irrational defence of his team after they lost a second successive Championship game, to be dumped out of the competition.
O’Shea knows his hurling and when he says Tipperary will come back brighter, you believe him, especially under his guidance. But there is plenty of doubt about this group of players and criticism, contrary to what O’Shea says, is deserved, namely why their forwards can’t win enough of their own ball.
Dublin showed an early July exit can galvanise a team but given the plethora of retirements and forced exits coming Tipperary’s way, it might be 2015 before they challenge for All-Ireland honours again.
Fógra: Duty this past weekend in Kilkenny and Killarney, never mind the late receipt of an invitation, meant this writer missed his “legendary” uncle Billy Cooper’s 50th birthday celebrations. A written apology was sought and here it is.
It really doesn’t have to be this way for Counihan or Cork
If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, what might be said of Cork’s footballers after this weekend? This wasn’t the first time Conor Counihan, pictured, has come up short on match-ups against Kerry and for the second time in three years it was a complete systematic failure for his defence in the first half.
Colm Cooper’s goal was only the second goal Cork have conceded in championship in 24 months, but can we truly say their rearguard structure against a top team showed any sort of development from 2011 — bar James Loughrey’s addition? Granted, the camp may have been knocked back after the recent bug, but some of the defenders played as if they were strangers to one another.
Also, the question of whether Graham Canty, pictured, is being accommodated in the team is a debate that needs to be had. Counihan will lead his side to an All-Ireland quarter-final, that much is almost certain, but their way of tiring teams into submission doesn’t work anymore. The good news is they have players who can let loose.
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