I think,and the operative word here is ‘think’, I am not claiming to be all knowing about this - but generally that was a good display tonight and encouraging from the point of view that a lot of the young guys did very well - but it was a year that we should have done much better.
We had a year of Dooley in goal and for the very last game, management decide that maybe that isn’t the right way to go and go back to Maguire (who gave a very assured display I thought). Now I am not doubting Dooley’s abilities at all, he is a serious keeper, but he was seen to be such an integral part of the whole thing except at the last minute where he wasn’t so integral after all, that it is just not logical. A knock out championship game is not the place to decide you were wrong for all of the Walsh Cup, League and Leinster championship. That was our best display under puck outs all year. It smacks of the Rushe thing last year, where either it was right or wrong, but it can’t be right up until the very last minute when it suddenly becomes totally wrong.
I thought the 15 that played, did well. Schutte has lost a bit of touch somehow, but people have years where that happens, it will come back. Dillon got the goal well, and is hard to judge for the rest of it as they were outnumbered in the forwards. Like Schutte he seemed anxious at times - but without being part of the camp, we can’t know what possible drivers there were for that. McMorrow, Barret, Bennett, O Donnell, Rushe were all excellent, others were decent and no one was bad. So it was a decent display.
But… and it is a huge but, we are infinitely better then a three point defeat to Cork in the first round of the qualifiers. Management came in and made decisions, big decisions, to improve things and we have had our earliest championship exit in years. If you make big decisions, you are taking on big responsibilities and accepting big consequences if they go wrong - they went wrong.
It is managements job to bring along the players, it is any managers job in any walk of life to get buy in from the people under them. They failed in this instance. We had a lot of under 21 players involved tonight, except our best under 21, Cian Boland (the only Dublin player to make the GAA u21 team of the year last year). We have our best player ever probably in Sutcliffe sitting at home, and we have the issues over Kelly (and yes, there are issues). We have lost Joey Boland, Keaney, Carton etc. in ways that were not particularly befitting players that have given so much to Dublin. There is a thought process, not necessarily a wrong one, that this is what must be done to take a step forward (like Whelan and Ryan with the footballers as is often quoted), but where is the step forwards?
Maybe Cunningham introduced youth, but if you alienate everyone else, then all you have left is youth - it isn’t a choice it is a consequence, and they are two different things entirely.
If you list our best 15, it is a serious team. We probably lack real depth, but we have a very decent 15 and 3 or 4 replacements. Way better then a first round qualifier exit to a poor enough team would indicate. We have real talent coming through - possibly better then at any time in the past. But I don’t think we should throw away the intervening years either over what seems to be an ego clash.
If Cunningham worked for me as a manager, I would be genuinely impressed by his bravery to make decisions, I would be impressed by his experience and I would be impressed by his coolness under pressure. I would also have to acknowledge that he is most likely a very decent guy that cares passionately about what he does. But ultimately I would also have to acknowledge that it is isn’t working out. It is possible to do everything totally right and be very wrong. I have seen this in business and in sport - sometimes things just don’t fit.
Looking at things from a distance, which I hope the DCC are doing, we have a lot of talent available, but have lost important games to so so teams like Cork and Limerick. We have a management team who have made big tactical decisions, and then decided they were wrong at the last minute and we have a management team who have failed to bring along some of the most important stake holders in the Dublin hurling project.
Again, as I started the post, that is what I think. I am not claiming to be all knowing on the subject, and without being involved in the camp on a day to day basis, one can’t be all knowing. I genuinely believe everyone done their absolute best and as a supporter I am grateful for that. There is a lot of room for debate on the points above, and that is good too - although personally I will be ignoring any debate that is rude, personal or just downright ignorant.