Denis Bastick: ‘Real championship’ is just starting

They are at the halfway point of their six-step plan for All-Ireland success, though the serious stuff is really just beginning for Denis Bastick and Dublin.

Denis Bastick: ‘Real championship’ is just starting

Sure, the veteran midfielder spoke honestly when he talked of Dublin remaining “a work in progress” at what they hope is the mid-point of their championship campaign, particularly in terms of their offensive play.

But, in reality, their third Leinster title success under Jim Gavin has been the easiest yet with 54 points to spare on their rivals after three games, 11 more than last year and 15 greater than 2013.

Their All-Ireland quarter-final opposition on the August Bank Holiday Weekend is still undecided, with Kerry, Cork, Kildare or Fermanagh all potential opponents.

The difficulty of the challenge is about to rise sharply for the All-Ireland favourites and the comfort of a second opportunity removed.

“It’s kind of like a stop in a season — now we’re into real championship football,” said Bastick. “No back door. No mistakes. This is it. We’re out on our arses if we mess up.

“The season kind of comes in two phases, part one is finished now and it’s just about going forward now and seeing how we can do in the second part.”

For a spell there, Bastick wasn’t so sure if he was going to be involved in any of it after aggravating an old ankle injury in a club game after Dublin’s quarter-final win over Longford.

It was an untimely blow as the Templeogue Synge St club man’s start against Longford was his first in the championship in three years. The setback meant the 33-year-old missed their semi-final win over Kildare though he returned as a sub for the final 20 minutes of Sunday’s provincial decider.

Asked if he feared his summer may be over as he hobbled about on crutches , Bastick nodded. “Those doubts cross your mind. But I’ve been around a while now and you know to put them to the back of your head and just look forward. That’s the only way of doing it.

“Unfortunately the ankle just turned out to be worse than I initially thought. We have a great medical team but it just took a bit longer to get right.

“The strength of the squad is that if you’re not 100%, you’re not going to risk anything and the guys have been doing a great job. You just need to get yourself back right and that’s what I did. So I was happy to come on against Westmeath and get some game time again.”

Bastick picked up his eighth Leinster medal following their 13-point defeat of the Lake County. That alone would represent a stellar career for most county players though the two-time All-Ireland winner’s achievements have been largely overshadowed by Stephen Cluxton’s 11th medal.

“We all look up to Stephen,” said Bastick. “Look at him again on Sunday, dominating his area, which was great to see. Once you have that, leading from the back, it carries through the rest of the team right to the front.

“We all look to him and there’s a reason why he’s captain and there’s a reason why he’s so successful.”

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