Daly looks at bigger picture

ANTHONY DALY is as ebullient as you might imagine.

Issuing mock super-injunctions against a training-ground nickname being used in print. Joshing his bloodstained centre-forward about getting the dates of training wrong.

His side just beat Kilkenny by a dozen points. How would you be? Yesterday he was happy that his players gave a performance. He’d asked them to play with freedom, and they did.

“Fellas did come and play, and that was the big thing in the dressing-room – to play with freedom and not to get caught up in occasions,” he said.

“Nobody knows it better than me with Clare worrying about tickets and what about the parade, where’ll we bring the cup, all that rot. It’s all about the 70 minutes and we realised that in 1995.

“It’s all about the 70 minutes. Everything else is irrelevant. The newspapers are looking for a new story, and I understand that, and we were well written up during the week – we didn’t ban anyone from reading papers either! — but we’ve tried to take it in stride.”

Even in the first flush of a title win, Daly wasn’t losing sight of the bigger picture yesterday.

“We’re national league champions now but we play Offaly on May 29, and we’ve four weeks to get ready. We know what they brought to the occasion last year against Galway and they probably got a kick in the league this year when they beat Wexford and probably weren’t expecting them to get the last two results they got (and avoid relegation).

“There’s nothing more dangerous than a stung Offalyman. You needn’t tell me that.

“We’ve a job of work to do to keep the focus, to learn the lesson that maybe other Dublin teams didn’t, getting caught up in the hype.”

Daly’s charges return to their clubs for the next couple of weeks, coming back to the county side for the fortnight before the Offaly game and the Clareman hoped the win would boost their self-esteem.

“We’ve a big job of work for that (Offaly) but big days like this are confidence days. We can play at the top level, against all the top teams.

“One of the most disappointing days with Clare, and there were lots of them, was the 1995 league final, because we had targeted that league.

“We flopped in that final, but when you win an All-Ireland after that the league pales a bit and Ger (Loughnane) probably never targeted the league after that.

“This is a good day because it’s not so long we were over in the Cusack Stand dressing-rooms, totally despondent, saying ‘where are we going’ after two years’ hard training. It didn’t look like we were going too far, so in that sense it’s satisfying.

“But it’s May 1, there’s a lot to go yet.”

Quizzed about his punishing commute from Clare for Dublintraining, Daly dismissed the hardship.

“It’s a fair old haul, but I love it as well. The buzz I get out of the hour and a half’s training means you’re in Portlaoise on the way home before you know it.

“They’re great to train and when you get that commitment from players you’ll enjoy it. Hard to know where the year’s even gone.”

He was also dismissive of those ruling Kilkenny out as a force for the season ahead: “Look, they were down six marquee players,” said Daly.

“For any team to be down Henry Shefflin and Tommy Walsh, probably two of the best players of the last 12 years, never mind the rest they were down, if you were to write Kilkenny off you’d be confused.”


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