DUBLIN boss Anthony Daly and captain Johnny McCaffrey admitted they feared a repeat of last year’s late qualifier defeat by Antrim after Offaly reduced their lead to two points in the 68th minute of yesterday’s Leinster SHC quarter-final.
Both men sensed déjà vu when Shane Dooley scored his 13th point after the hosts had been ahead by eight points with 10 minutes remaining.
“I’d be a liar if I said the Antrim thing didn’t flash through the head there,” Daly revealed.
“Certainly when they came back to two points you’re saying ‘somebody go up and win a ball or win a free or something’. Fair play to the likes of Peadar (Carton) there. He could have been sulking there over the last few weeks.
“He played the first five or six rounds of the League and then didn’t get on towards the end of it.
“To come in and win three balls and get the goal... that’s what it’s about — fellas keeping the chin up, waiting to get their chance and being patient. And that’s what he did there.”
McCaffrey had the same pervading feeling as Daly but reckoned the heartbreaking experience of that defeat to the Ulster outfit just days after they had surprised Clare stood to them.
“Yes, coming towards the end, it was squeaky bum time but that’s the resolve we have this year, the change of mentality that we’re going to push on and we weren’t going to sit back. We needed to get the few scores to kick on and thankfully we did. Being in that position last year and being able to learn from it this year helped. That was one of the most pleasing aspects of it.”
Dooley revealed he thought Offaly, even though they had lost Derek Molloy to a second yellow in the 59th minute, had the jump on Dublin at the death.
“I honestly thought we were going to win it at that stage. The extra man killed us. Conal Keaney slipped back and he picked up a couple of balls and they got the goal off one of his clearances. But fair play to Dublin, I would have to give them credit. They were raging hot favourites and they came out and hurled with real quality and got the better of us.”
Even if he wasn’t too enamoured with the performance, Daly knew there were mitigating circumstances for it, as they were without the spine of their defence, injured duo Tomas Brady and Joey Boland.
“And on top of that, you had Liam Rushe and Shane Durkin who had hardly trained,” he pointed out. “Rushie’s legs were gone to jelly at the finish. We were a bit makeshift at the back.
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