McCrabbe focus nowon the main prize

DUBLIN All Star hurler Alan McCrabbe has set his sights on winning a Leinster medal to go with his recently-earned Allianz Division One honour.

The Craobh Chiaráin man, who only returned from injury in the last round game against Cork, said there is no fear of the Blues getting complacent after Sunday’s heroics against Kilkenny.

Anthony Daly’s side pulled off a fine win over Clare in the qualifiers last year before being shocked by Antrim. However, McCrabbe maintains the team are confident of going on and winning a provincial title.

“Oh yeah,” he said, “but we can only take one game at a time, Get over Offaly, and take it from there.”

Asked about the possibility of being complacent going into the Parnell Park game at the end of the month, McCrabbe insisted: “No way, and even from the start of the year we said the league was only the league.

“It’s the Offaly game we’re looking forward to now. We know they’re going to be bulling to get at us, especially us as league champions.”

The manner of Sunday’s victory pleased McCrabbe most. They had prepared for the game to go to the wire.

“We really kept going the last 10 minutes, while they probably faded away. I suppose us having the extra man for much of the game possibly was a factor in the end.”

They also responded impressively to Kilkenny’s first-half goal, scoring eight points without reply compared to last year’s Leinster final when they faltered after Eddie Brennan had netted.

“To beat Kilkenny by 12 points shows this team has been building on everything, and hopefully come the championship we can build again. Last year we did fade away after conceding an early goal, but this shows the mentality in the team. We get on with it now, go back and just score points and don’t react negatively to goals early in the game. We just stick with it.”

McCrabbe is not so quick to dismiss Kilkenny for the upcoming All-Ireland championship.

“Jesus, no. They’ve had one bad day out of what, 10 years? They’ll be back. They’ve still a good squad there and they’ll be pushing on again for the Leinster championship, maybe even pushing on that bit harder now.”

For McCrabbe, starting the final was an achievement in itself after undergoing a hip operation in January, before straining his shin against Waterford in February.

In January, Daly said the player’s injury was career-threatening if he didn’t have surgery.

“When I got the news at first I obviously thought it would be bad, that I wouldn’t be back at all for the league and would be pushing to be back for the championship.”

McCrabbe’s absence for most of the league didn’t hurt Dublin too badly, with Conal Keaney returning and Ryan O’Dwyer being introduced to the attack. But the 25-year-old also had praise, of sorts, for Ballyboden’s Paul Ryan.

“Oh yeah, they’ve made a huge impact. But we’ve always had Paul Ryan there. All he had to do was get his head out of his h***, and start playing! And obviously he did. Thank God he come through this year.”

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