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Cunningham looks forward with Dubs
28 Jul 2015 16:04
Dublin senior hurling team manager Ger Cunningham believes that the Sky Blues were “competitive and consistent” in 2015, and is already looking ahead to next year.
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In his first season at the helm, the former Cork star kept Dublin in Division 1A of the Allianz League and presided over championship victories against Laois and Limerick.
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Dublin lost heavily to Galway in the Leinster quarter-final replay but could, and arguably should, have closed the game out against the Tribesmen at the first time of asking.
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Their season ended against Waterford in last Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-final but Cunningham is satisfied with the team’s progress this year.
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He said: “We were in the last six. A couple of pucks of the ball and it could have gone either way, a couple of decisions didn’t go our way (on Sunday).
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“I think we need to go away, learn and reflect, look at the challenges we face next year. I’m looking forward to next year.”
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Cunningham, speaking at the launch of the Bord Gáis Energy Munster Under-21 hurling final, added: “We wanted to get to the Leinster final at least and see where we went from there.
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“We put ourselves in a position to win that (Galway) game, we didn’t.
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“I don’t think our season should be defined by 15 minutes in Tullamore (when Dublin found themselves 0-01 to 3-10 behind after 19 minutes).
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"Our players have the same ambitions as any other players, the other counties, the top counties."
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“At the start of the year, for us to be competitive and consistent, those were the two.”
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Cunningham admitted that he is hurting after Sunday’s defeat but is determined to stick with the job.
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He explained: “Our players have the same ambitions as any other players, the other counties, the top counties. We have to get up there. They want to win titles, All-Irelands, championships and leagues.
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“That is the challenge for us to continue to see can we get there.”
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Cunningham, Sports ambassador for Bord Gáis Energy, hasn’t watched the DVD of Sunday’s game yet but intends to over the coming days.
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At half-time, Dublin were a point clear but with less than 20 minutes left, Waterford had surged into a seven-point lead and there was no way back.
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Shane Bennett’s 37th-minute goal was a pivotal score and Cunningham pinpointed the first ten minutes of the second half as a key spell.
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He said: “We had a couple of chances ourselves but they got four or five scores that changed the game.
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“The opening goal was going to be crucial. There was no goal in the first half and the opening goal was going to have a big impact.
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“They’re good to defend a lead, they went back to their sweeper system, that they’re good at and have well rehearsed and well planned. In fairness to our guys, we still chased the game. Unfortunately we couldn’t see it out.”
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Chasing a big deficit against Waterford was always going to be difficult, Cunningham conceded.
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“Again, you’ve got to decide what to do. When you go behind like that, you have to try and look at how you’re going to get scores back to get back into the game.
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“That (Bennett) goal gave them a big lift.”
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But Cunningham is pleased with Dublin’s season in its totality, acknowledging that it was a learning curve for management and players.
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He added: “We’re in Division 1A, we’re in a very competitive league where you have five matches and you don’t really have room to experiment if you want to maintain your Division 1A status, which we did.
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“We got to the League semi-final, a game we should have beaten Cork in. “Going back to the first round of the championship, we had Galway nearly put away, we had a chance to go two points up in Croke Park and look at where Galway are now, into the (All-Ireland) semi-final.
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“We had to regroup and we had two very good victories so overall, we had to get to know the players and the players had to get to know us. It’s been a learning experience.”
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