Newly-appointed Dublin senior hurling manager Ger Cunningham has set himself the challenge of building upon the work of his predecessor Anthony Daly.
Admitting that the Sky Blues had achieved high standards in previous years, Cunningham reflected: “Looking at it from the outside, Dublin would have had ambitions to try and improve on where they got to in 2013, when they won the Leinster championship, got to an All-Ireland semi-final and within a puck of a ball of the final.
“When that didn’t happen [in 2014], there was a certain amount of regret, and it just shows where the standards have gone.
“Anthony has done such a great job that even getting to a Leinster final and All-Ireland quarter-final was looked on as a disappointing year.
“In the past, that would have been a great year for Dublin and that’s an indication of how well Anthony did.”
Cunningham will endeavour to assemble the best possible Dublin squad for 2015, and insists age is irrelevant.
Daly was hamstrung by the fact that a number of the county’s top dual players committed to football only but Cunningham insists that the door is open for any player wishing to make himself available to the hurling set-up.
Cunningham, 53, said: “My job is to put the best squad of players together to represent the Dublin senior hurling team.
“In that regard, the door is open for any player who wishes to commit to the cause.
“Any player currently playing football but feels that he wants to put his hand up for the Dublin hurlers will obviously be considered.”
And Cunningham, who has kept a close eye on the U21 grade through his work as a Bord Gáis Energy sports ambassador in recent years, insisted: “Age is irrelevant to me when it comes to finalising a panel for the new year.
“It doesn’t matter whether a player is 17 or 37 — if my selectors and me believe that he has something to contribute and something to offer to the squad, we will base my judgments around that.”
Cunningham will finalise his backroom team in due course and explained: “It’s still a little early to speculate on who I will have.
“It wouldn’t be fair to comment on individuals until I have confirmed appointments behind the scenes.”
Cunningham is hoping to put the experience gained working alongside managers Donal O’Grady, John Allen and Jimmy Barry-Murphy in Cork to good use.
He said: “Having worked closely with three inter-county groups, you pick up things and learn things.
“They are all successful, All-Ireland-winning managers and you pick up ideas and thoughts about what works best from each of those guys.
“I’ll be trying to mix those with my own ideas on how things should be done.”
l Ger Cunningham is a sports ambassador for Bord Gáis Energy and will appear on TG4’s live coverage of the Bord Gáis U21 team of the year awards, which airs at 8.30pm tomorrow evening.
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