Denis Bastick has won All-Irelands, Leinster titles and Allianz Leagues in his decade with Dublin, but the midfielder hasn’t forgotten the low of 2009 when a season’s stint at full-back triggered a cascade of criticism in the wake of their quarter-final defeat to Kerry.
Dublin had sauntered through Leinster again before facing a Kerry side that was well-beaten by Cork in Munster and one which had stuttered past Longford, Sligo and Antrim in the qualifiers. No-one expected what happened next: a 17-point win for the Kingdom.
The post-mortem was ruthless with Bastick’s stationing, and performance, at full-back one of the sticks used to beat the Dubs with after yet another frustrating end to their annual odyssey to reclaim Sam Maguire for the first time since 1995.
“You’re out there trying your best and if it doesn’t work out it doesn’t work out. You remember things like that, things that are written,” said Bastick ahead of Sunday’s semi-final against Mayo. “Maybe I wasn’t up to scratch at that time. I just took the criticism on, and tried to learn from it.”
Looking back, he views the time as one that has made him stronger, but he is glad to be back operating around the middle. Rory O’Carroll cemented his place at number three shortly after and it will be his brief to shadow the imposing Aidan O’Shea this weekend.
A “funny old breed” is Bastick’s description for the full-back union, but he believes O’Carroll possesses all the skills required to flourish in an area he knows himself to be one of the most difficult and unforgiving on the field.
“Physically he’s a top-class player and he enjoys playing there. He likes marking people. A lot of people like to go up the field and get scores and get on the scoreboard whereas he’s happy enough where he is.
“He’s comfortable in that area and he’s happy playing there. So the attributes he has, he’s obviously strong in the air. Physically, he enjoys that man-to-man battle that he has quite often.”
Meanwhile Ryan O’Dwyer has given Dublin hurling fans a welcome boost by suggesting few, if any retirements, will take place over winter and predicting a much improved 2016 campaign generally.
The industrious forward was part of a Dubs side that suffered a heavy Leinster championship defeat to Galway and they bowed out of the Championship with an All-Ireland quarter-final loss to Waterford.
The dispiriting campaign has left a question mark over the futures over a number of veteran players including O’Dwyer himself, club and county colleague Niall Corcoran, Conal Keaney, David O’Callaghan and ex-AllStar goalkeeper Gary Maguire. But O’Dwyer stated he fully intends to stay on and maintained that anyone he has spoken to has been as ‘focused’ as he currently is on challenging much harder for top honours next season under manager Ger Cunningham.
“I’ll be brutally honest with you, as soon as the final whistle went against Waterford, I was just thinking about next year already, that was my personal feeling anyhow,” said O’Dwyer.
“I think most of the lads I’ve met in the last couple of weeks, there’s only one conversation we’re having and that’s just about next year.”
“I think when Ger gives us a call to regroup, I think that we’ll be looking forward to go back.”
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