DUBLIN there thrilled to win the National Hurling League and they hope the success will do big things for the game in the capital, but it was minds on the future within minutes of scoring what was the first League success since 1938/39.
In four weeks time the Dubs entertain Offaly in the Leinster championship in Parnell Park, and victory there is a must according to their helpful boss Anthony Daly.
“That is what our season is all about now,” insisted manager Daly after the destruction job on the Cats. “We may be the National League champions, but on May 29 that will count for nothing when we face Offaly in the championship.
“We had better be ready. There is nothing more dangerous than a stung Offaly man. We have a job of work to do now, and the first thing is to keep our focus.
“If we can beat Offaly by even one point I would be thrilled,” added the former Clare All-Ireland winning captain.
The midlanders beat Wexford during the League campaign, which most felt guaranteed them against relegation. However, the Slaneysiders pulled off a big win over All-Ireland champions, Tipperary in the last round to avoid the drop and send Offaly crashing down to Division 2 instead.
Mr Daly said Dublin had to be very, very careful because there would be a basklash from Offaly.
The big thing in the Dublin dressing-room before Sunday’s final was to try and get the players to relax and play with freedom.
“We didn’t want them to get caught up in the occasion,” the manager said. “I remember from my playing days with Clare getting worried about tickets and so on.
“We were nervous early on, but then we found our way. It is all about what happens when the ball is thrown in. I have to say I was thrilled with the way the players took responsibility, kept their shape and fought hard for every ball.
“Days like today, and victories like this one might show us, help us, to play against and cope with the big teams in big matches in the future,” he added. “You have to learn if you want to compete at the highest level. Hopefully our players will be the better for this winning experience.
“The win is very satisfying, but this is only May 1. There is a long way to go in the season.”
And what of Kilkenny?
They were, he said, down a number of marquee players.
“Any team down Henry Shefflin, Tommy Walsh, Richie Power and so on has to suffer,” he said. “If you guys write those lads off you would be a little confused.”
Meanwhile, the Dubs star performer Ryan O’Dwyer could scarely belief his luck after landing a League winners medal.
“It is amazing feeling,” admitted the Kilmacud Crokes man. “The excitement in the last few minutes was something else. The crowd really got behind us. They are the greatest crowd in the world.
“If we could get something going in the cpaital and get them coming more often it would be great. Something like this was badly needed for hurling. You saw the last 10 minutes when the corwds started shouting we started playing.
“It was an amazing feeling. We are aiming high for the rest of the season. This is only May 1. We haven’t achieved all we want to achieve for the season. There is more in this team and squad.”
He too spoke about being “very wary” facing Offaly in four weeks time in Parnell Park.
“They are going to want to knock us down,” he insisted. “We will enjoy tonight and maybe tomorrow but after that we will focus on Offaly.”
He said Kilkenny were very tough to break, but that was nothing less than the Dubs expected.
“They hit hard, but I think we were well able to stand up and take it,” said O’Dwyer, who added that he was made so, so welcome when he joined the squad at the end of last year.
“There are no egos in this panel,” he assured. “The players were so welcoming from the day I arrived. I wasn’t there to make up the numbers, but to hopefully make a difference to Dublin hurling. We all shared the dream. The dream now is to drive on.”