Henry ready to lead the line as Dublin bid to make amends

FOR David Henry, the seasons must be starting to blend into one another.

Year on year, the pattern is strikingly similar. Dublin struggle for form in the league, swagger to a Leinster title once the summer arrives and then see their All-Ireland ambitions implode in the month of August.

On the county panel since 2002, Henry broke onto the side three years later and was a virtual ever-present at right-corner back until last season when Pat Gilroy opted to try him at centre-half forward.

He spent four league games familiarising himself with his new surroundings before being called back to the old neighbourhood in time for the annual provincial procession and the tilting at windmills that followed.

Now here he finds himself again, on the cusp of a new season, and Gilroy is again asking him to accept a job further up the park, this time in the full-forward line, against league and All-Ireland champions Kerry in Killarney tomorrow.

He shrugs at the merry-go-round.

“I think the way the game is played now, when you are in the forwards you could end up all the way back and when you are in the backs you could end up all the way forward,” the Raheny clubman explained.

“You have to be comfortable playing all round the place because you don’t know where you are going to find yourself on the pitch. I am comfortable enough playing in the backs or forwards so I don’t really mind.”

He is well versed in the intricacies of attacking positions with his club. So too is Alan Hubbard, another man more used to game-keeping than poaching at inter-county level. For others again, nothing can prepare them for this game.

Gilroy has chucked a good handful of greenhorns into the mix for this latest joust with Kerry and Henry delivers a solid vote of confidence in them all.

“They are doing very well. Some fellas who haven’t played a lot for Dublin before are doing really well.

“The two McManamons are playing very well. They played very well with Jude’s. Some of the college lads, Ross and Rory O’Carroll played very well with their college and it is the same with a couple of the DCU lads.

“It is still very early. It is still only the start of February. There’s a lot of football to be played and you just don’t know how things are going to go with injuries, but while you have the jersey and you are fit and able to play it’s important to try and keep it.”

If he has one piece of advice for the new recruits it is that “things do go against you in the game and it’s just a matter of going for the next ball so as not to be getting your head down when little things do go wrong for you.”

Against Kerry, even a weakened Kerry, the likelihood is that something is going to go wrong at one point or another, both individually and collectively. Henry and the class of 2009 can attest to that after last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final.

So, glad to be seeing them again so soon? “I don’t think it matters who it is,” said Henry.

“The fact it is Kerry I don’t think has any bearing on what happened before. We are just delighted to be getting another crack at things. It’s 2010, 2009 is gone.

“We are looking forward to it. There are a lot of new lads that will freshen things up and everyone is pushing hard for places and we are all looking forward to the challenge.”

It must be frustrating being asked about a crushing defeat six months after the event but the Dublin players will likely have to put up with it long after this weekend’s meeting and perhaps even until they go and reach that elusive All-Ireland final. And so, the inevitable question – where did it all go wrong?

“It’s hard to know. It’s hard to put a finger on it. Kerry played extremely well that day. Probably the best they played in a long, long time. We didn’t perform. When you mix the two of them together you get a bit of a hammering. That’s it really. It’s very hard to put your finger on one thing that went wrong. There were so many of them.”

The process of putting that right starts tomorrow.


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