Daly makes case for defence as sweeper tactic is ditched

ANTHONY DALY admits he has dispensed with Dublin’s extra defender tactic because he has more confidence in his team.

The Clare native used midfielder Johnny McCaffrey as a sweeper in the 2009 Leinster final against Kilkenny, a tactic he also used against the Cats when in charge of the Banner.

However, he feels secure enough to go man-on-man against the four-time All-Ireland champions now.

“We used the sweeper one or two days,” he acknowledged.

“One in particular was against Kilkenny in the Leinster final here two years ago. Just we weren’t ready to take them on at that stage.

“We felt without that bit of extra cover we needed the player to play that role and Johnny Mc is a very sure touch sort of player.

“We were lucky enough to have one and he did the job on the day. We weren’t three miles off. There are certain days we might do it. We might do it on Sunday!”

Daly was being flippant with that last remark but he realises Dublin are still in need of the big occasions to cement their progress.

“Even the last day in Cork, we just seemed more tense than in the previous couple of games. It just does affect fellas.

“There’s no doubt about that. It’s all experience and playing in these days in the only way to experience them and get used to them. That’s part and parcel of the maturing process at this level; to get into these finals.

“Going back to my Clare (playing) days, we lost Munster finals and that was the big tension that we had to get over. We couldn’t get over the occasion of all that.”

Daly also maintains the day will come when the hurlers attract the same numbers as the footballers to Croke Park.

Even if the blue and navy don’t turn out in force to watch them on Sunday, he is adamant there is recognition in the capital that his team are moving in the right direction.

“If Dublin get to the All-Ireland final, the Hill will be full,” said Daly. “Definitely. Dublin are on the way up. The work is going on at the underage level. That has to pay dividends.

“We were in our first Leinster final two years ago for 19 years. Now we’re in our first league final since ‘46. I think this is Dublin’s fifth year in Division 1. It is improving anyway.

“That’s in black and white. If that can happen, if we can get to an All-Ireland semi-final or a final, I’m sure the crowd would turn out for that.

“A bit like Clare. I think there were 12,500 people there when we played Cork in the first round in the Gaelic Grounds in 1995 and you couldn’t get a ticket for love or money for the final.”

Daly is also more convinced his older and younger players are on the same wavelength.

After finally beating Wexford in the 2009 Leinster SHC following years of defeats, veterans Kevin Flynn and Liam Ryan cried in the Nowlan Park dressing room as youngster Liam Rushe asked them why they were making such a fuss of it.

But using a nearby picture of Ollie Baker as an example, Daly illustrates that such instances are not such a bad thing.

“I remember after the Munster final in ‘95, the baldy fella there in the Antrim jersey (Baker) told me he wasn’t at either of the previous two Munster finals. He was in the States for one of them and at a funeral for the other.

“Me inside crying after that match and him: ‘What’s the big deal?’ But that’s young lads being young lads. Rushie would be a confident lad that way.

“It would mean an awful lot to everyone to win a national league medal. I don’t have one and it would be a regret in my career.”

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up