Few managers would even think so. And few men would have the cojones to do it. And even less get away with it. It could have turned against you. Very bad.
Anthony Daly knows this because one of his star players told him so.
But it doesn’t, and it comes across as a snapshot in time, which players who witnessed it will hardly forget in a hurry.
Ten years later, to the day, one colorful image stands out from all others of the afternoon the Dublin Hurlers clinched their first National League title since 1949.
Anthony Daly’s bard stars the afternoon of May 1, 2011.
âWe were terribly nervous in St Vincent,â said Daly Star Sport. âI just had the feeling that there was a lot of it, in one ear, in the other.
âI thought give a little team talk, guys were looking at me everywhere except me.
âWe used to stick on the ‘Foggy Dew’ oul on the bus.
âWe would have timed to come, just going down towards the lights of Fairview.
âIt would bring you directly under the stand.
âWe used to practice that in the car and everything, me and Hedge (selector, CiarÃ¡n Hetherton), to make sure we had the right timing.
âI felt there had been some talk and dizziness, where you would like some silence for the last 10 minutes on the bus and the guys really thinking about what to do.
“I thought they were restless.”
Daly (51) realized the opportunity that presented itself and how it almost didn’t happen.
Dublin had edged Cork in the last round of group matches, and Waterford took care of Galway to set up a Dublin / Kilkenny decision maker. There was no league quarterfinal or semi-final at the time.
âI vividly remember Fitzy (Waterford manager Davy Fitzgerald), in a text message during the week saying, ‘Are you going to beat Cork? Daly said.
âI said, ‘Jesus, you will surely beat Galway.’
âHe says, ‘Waterford has a great record against Galway. We will all be ready for it. Do your business and you will be in the final. “
Dublin were two points behind as Cork tried to score from a free goal.
Under-keeper Finn McGarry was keeping an eye on the other game: âFinn said to me, ‘Waterford is two points ahead of Dalo.’
âI said, ‘Jesus, we’re in the final if we hang on.’
âI knew it would be huge for us, Croke Park. I didn’t even know who we were going to meet.
âI remember Hedge coming down and he said, ‘Kilkenny in the final’. “Oh damn,” I say. “
And here they are, a fortnight later, about to face the might of Brian Cody’s black and amber demolition machine, tuned in with wandering spirits.
So Daly did a “MacGyver” and came up with a plan out of nowhere.
âI did a hit,â he says. âLook, I just felt like we had to break the ice.
âI spotted the goggles and the swimming cap in the corner of my bag and just had a fit of madness that it might work. âI said, ‘F *** it, there you go.’
Daly emerged in the locker room with his blue togs, goggles and swimming cap. “Where’s the pool in those stylish Hogan Stand changing rooms?”
âSure, look, half of them didn’t even get it, like. They were looking at me.
âIt got them away from the game, sweetie, and they said, ‘Of course the manager is a fruit cake anyway.’
âI got back into my tracksuit and said, ‘Guys,’ sorry, everyone who was grossed out.
“Do you want to lighten up a bit, it’s a hurling game, you know.”
âI said, ‘Jesus, nobody beats this crowd in the final. What do we have to lose? Take out and tear them up.
âIt was really funny talking to Conal Keaney that night, saying, ‘Jesus, my first year, what’s that fruit cake like on this team?’
He said: ‘If we had been beaten by 10 or 11 points there, I think you could have lost the whole locker room. “
âBut we definitely had a very free mentality back then. It was the third year and we may have stopped in a few games before.
âWe didn’t want panic and tension in our screams. We wanted to try them out, and of course, whatever it brought us, it brought us.
It brought a remarkable 0-22 to 1-7 victory. A team of Brian Cody held eight scores. It still looks like some kind of fantasy.
âThey had obviously lost in the race for five (All-Irelands),â Daly said.
âBut they were eager to get things back on track, which they did later in the year.
âThey didn’t really win the League finals or show up for them.
âI was also aware that we faced them (Kilkenny) in the Leinster final, and okay we played a sweeper, but it was 2-18 to 0-18.
âAnd Cody said it a lot afterwards – that he saw Dublin coming.
âYou didn’t feel like you were going to get Cody’s free days.
“I guess the day they were really flat and we were really motivated for it.”
John Dalton had the chance to avoid a red card, while Eoin Larkin was kicked out for a movie at Conor McCormack: “I saw his Laochra Gael a few weeks ago and Larks, what a player,” says Daly .
âHe may never have been named in the top three, but being on the sidelines against Larkin, I’ve always seen him as a serious weapon.
âConor McCormack assaulted him a bit. Conor kind of gave it a little kick. It was very close to us.
âLarkin kind of slipped a bit. Ah, it wasn’t vicious now, but you knew that with (Michael) Wadding (referee) right there you were gone.
âAnd there was every chance that McCormack’s would go under the radar.
âIt was very discreet. He was just one of those who annoyed anyone playing and Larkin took the bait.
âAt half-time you felt, ‘Jesus, this is a chance.’â
In the heat of the moment, Keaney had knocked Henry Shefflin down with a huge shoulder, the Kilkenny legend bouncing straight off the bridge with a look of shock and defiance on his face.
âI’ve watched it (the game) a few times, and Keaney’s worth then,â Daly says. âThat’s what really struck me.
âI really rated Shefflin as the best I’ve ever seen, and I knew Shefflin wasn’t going to let a soccer guy dominate.
âBut, that was a statement about the day and then how Conal ended the game as well.
âHe was huge. His point right next to me, and he established another point with a cross ball to Johnny McCaffrey.
âJesus, that was a magical thing. And Maurice O’Brien got a point with one hand.
âSimo (Lambert) got a point and Jesus, Dywer (Ryan O’Dwyer), he started to grab things from the sky from all angles.
âWe brought him to midfield and then we brought him back to the center.
âJoey (Boland) had to leave, or something.
âYou knew that in the last 15 minutes you were going to win and win with a little comfort.
âI remember telling them in the locker room, ‘This is the first time in three years that I’ve had some comfort watching a game.’â
Keaney’s return from the Dublin footballers that year was a major catalyst for the League’s victory and Leinster’s semi-final triumph over Galway – “The day we arrived,” Daly says.
âJesus, for me, was real and tangible support for the League,â he continues.
âI know we kind of went against us: ‘You weren’t allowed to beat them that much in the League final.’
âI think we backed that up by beating Limerick at Thurles later that year – another County of Munster (they had beaten Clare in 2010).
Keaney missed the Limerick game, after being involved in a motorcycle accident that left him hospitalized with a spell, and with a long-term knee problem.
âFor me, having Keaney maybe was like the feeling a football coach would have after a big deal of madness in the transfer window,â Daly says.
âAnd then your man comes in and scores two goals in one of your first games. It really justified all the chases and begging.
âI knew deep inside that his heart was screaming, but at the same time, it was a big key to leave. Footballers have been so close for so long.
“To meet him even in the locker room after the (League) final and say: ‘Ah Jesus, thank you for coming back.’
“Ah f *** thank you. I can not believe. Already?’
âI think he (Keaney) said in the article he did recently that he was more convinced than the rest of us that Kilkenny was gone. That we were going to move on. It was very, very close, but never really happened.
âAfter what he (Keaney) went through himself later in 11 and all through 12, with the crusader and almost killed – all of those things.
âThe guys were doing stuff that day against Kilkenny that I hadn’t really seen them do.
âOf course it was fabulous and you really felt like, ‘It’s starting to click here.’
âIt was a feeling that night, and even arriving at Sunnybank with the League trophy, to a great friend of mine, Peter Garvey – Lord have mercy on him.
“We appreciated. By the time the Leinster final arrived it might have been in our heads: âHere is the big bad wolf again.
âAnd they (Kilkenny) beat us well. I still think it was up to us for later in the year to have beaten Limerick and played so well against Tipp in the semi-finals (All-Ireland).
âThe guys had grown up with confidence
âI would honestly say that maybe ’13 (Leinster title) would only have happened for ’11.
âThese are the days that really stand out.
âWin a national final and the boys bring a cup to the Hill.
“Jesus. It was great.”
“ I spotted the goggles and the swim kit and thought it might work … ”