Ironically, one Cork goalkeeping legend may have pointed out the biggest problem facing another in Dublin.
Speaking as a pundit on The Sunday Game during the Championship, Dónal Óg Cusack lamented the poor scoring returns from Dublin’s forwards, whose season ended with a whimper.
Against Kilkenny in the Leinster final, Dublin scored just 1-9, increasing that tally to a measly 0-16 when they lost to Tipperary in the All-Ireland quarter-finals. Ger Cunningham, Cusack’s long-time predecessor between the posts for Cork, is the man entrusted with picking up the pieces in Dublin.
All going to plan, he should have a fully fit Danny Sutcliffe at his disposal as well as Mark Schutte, while Liam Rushe, currently operating at centre-back, could be returned to his old stomping ground in the half-forwards. If, however, Cunningham is of a mind to simply draft in new forwards, something Cusack appeared to favour, then Rushe isn’t convinced they are out there.
“The example everybody uses is we’d love to conjure up a Seamus Harnedy, every county would love that,” said Rushe. “But whether there is (one of them) or not in Dublin, we’ll wait and see. I did really enjoy Dónal Óg banging on there during the year about how we needed new forwards, a clean sweep and find new players. I was kind of looking going, ‘what new players could he possibly be talking about?’
“Look, we’ll just try and bring through a few lads from this year’s minor team. They were pretty strong again and the U21s went well. They were probably a bit unlucky against a good Wexford.”
Rushe isn’t convinced of the apparent need for ‘rebuilding’ in the Dublin panel, a suggestion implicit in the three-year appointment. “I suppose to hear some people say the team is finished is... look, I know there are natural cycles in a team and six years is a while. But in those six years, I think something like 20 players have come and gone onto the panel,” said Rushe.
“So it’s not like we started with the same 15 and they have stayed there. Yeah, we’d love a bit of new blood. We’d love some new players pushing for spots and hopefully we’ll get it. But it’s a bit early to be talking about the demise of this team.”
Rushe was coy about what players Cunningham will have with question marks over several Dublin veterans like Conal Keaney, Niall Corcoran, Gary Maguire, Stephen Hiney, David O’Callaghan and Ryan O’Dwyer.
“There are a few lads humming and hawing, but I won’t say anything until official announcements are made,” said former All Star Rushe. “I think the majority are definitely staying on. I’m just going to keep quiet on those matters.”
Rushe has some previous knowledge of Cunningham through their work together promoting the Bord Gais Energy All-Ireland U21 hurling championship.
“Anyone who followed Anthony was going to need a fairly high profile, weren’t they?” said Rushe. “If not a step up, he (Cunningham) is certainly on a level peg. He has won it all, he’s been there and done it. He’s helped in management teams when Cork won the All-Ireland as well.
“He has charisma in a different way to Anthony but he’s a shrewd tactician. And he’s laid down the gauntlet by saying everyone who wants to try is welcome. I’m looking forward to that.”
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