To be honest I am basing a lot of my optimism on the first 50 minutes of the Wexford Walsh Cup game. I saw more aggression and more tackles in that time then I saw in the last two years. But basing anything on the Walsh Cup could well be a flawed plan.
But… I remember a Walsh Cup game in 2010 v Galway, it was one of Keaney’s first days back, and O Dwyers first game or so and the step up in intensity was very similar to what I saw the other Sunday. On both occasions Parnell Pk just seemed smaller because they were closing the spaces so quick. That 2010 game was the beginnings of the time when we became a tier one county, and hopefully this year is the year when we get back to it.
I reckon we found maybe 3 or 4 players that wouldn’t really have been suggestions up until this (Kelly (Darren), Connolly, O Carroll and maybe Moore). Maybe they aren’t regular first teamers (although Connolly looked like it), but they will push the rest. Then you have the returnees (McCaffery, Ryan, Boland, Keaney, Sutcliffe), then guys who were pushing last year and injured or should have been involved if we hadn’t got a complete eejit managing us, McBride (x2, but especially Rian), Boland (if he recovers ok) and Conroy. On top of that we have the younger lads who were mentally young to be put playing championship last year (Burke, Whitely, O Sullivan), but are now reaching an age where it at least becomes a possibility. That is a completely new dynamic, an utterly changed scene from last year.