Former All-Star hurler Danny Sutcliffe has admitted a tightening of US visa regulations contributed to his decision to return to the Dublin setup.
Sutcliffe is hoping to feature against Antrim in Sunday’s Allianz Hurling League Division 1B tie, a game that has become particularly important to win after Saturday’s surprise defeat to Offaly.
It would be the 2013 Leinster championship winner’s first league game since helping the Sky Blues to victory over Limerick in the 2015 quarter-finals.
He opted out of Ger Cunningham’s setup after 2015 and ended up lining out for New York against Sligo in last summer’s Connacht championship opener.
The expectation among Dublin supporters was that Sutcliffe, along with a number of others who declined to play for Cunningham, were certain to return under new management, though the St Jude’s man insisted that wasn’t the case for him.
“No, no, it’s just it’s tough now with the visa situation,” said Sutcliffe. “Any other year, you probably would have got an 18-month extension on your grad visa but that wasn’t available, with Trump and all of that.
“So most people, like, were going to London or Dublin anyway. London was maybe there as an option but I made my mind up to commit to this, so I’m based here now.
“Yeah, I was away working. I knew I only had a year’s visa but it (hurling) wasn’t going to dictate whether I came back or not.”
Sutcliffe, who won an All Star as a 21-year-old in 2013, explained that hurling isn’t a vocation for him, rather a hobby.
“It wasn’t on top of my list (to return),” he said. “At the end of the day, people get confused. It’s a hobby. Other stuff comes first; travel, work, whatever.
“But I suppose I couldn’t say no when Pat (Gilroy) rang, with the setup he was putting together. So straight away I was interested.
“I was just privileged to get the chance to get involved again. I wasn’t going to pass it up, especially with my age, coming into the wrong end of the 20s.”
Sutcliffe, Conal Keaney, Peter Kelly, Joey Boland, John McCaffrey, and Alan Nolan are all back on the Dublin panel having left, or been dropped, under former boss Cunningham.
Sutcliffe said that, in his case, the timing of Gilroy’s appointment coincided with his visa difficulties in the US.
“I just didn’t have an opportunity to stay,” he said of his New York stint. “Pat offered me the chance to come into the setup. It wasn’t anything else, or anything more than that. I’m on the panel. I’m just trying to contribute.
“I knew he had changed the culture of Dublin football when he came in and I knew he probably planned to do that in the hurling as well.
“He’s obviously a very successful man off the field as well. And I knew he had Mickey Whelan with him, who is held in high regard in Dublin.”
Anyone who suspects Sutcliffe might be just passing through, or who doubts his commitment, should consider that he trained yesterday at 5.30am, a regular routine throughout winter.
“It all depends on how well I’m playing, I’m just taking it as a year, and you don’t know what his plans are either, you can’t think that far ahead,” he said. “Sunday is all we are thinking about now.”
Sutcliffe said it was ‘disappointing’ that Dublin did not kick on and develop as a team after winning the 2013 Leinster title, the year he claimed his All Star, though declined to apportion blame.
“I was more worried about my club and what was happening there. We had six or seven lads away so that was more getting my attention,” he said. “You’d obviously be chatting to them (Dublin players) here and there... it wasn’t going well. But it’s over now, they are just happy to be out of it and happy we have a good group back together. We all want the same thing.”
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