The Mattie Kenny factor, building on progress under Gilroy and retirements of ‘amazing servants’

DAVID TREACY KNOWS all about new Dublin manager Mattie Kenny, having worked with him for a number of years in the Cuala set-up.

The Dalkey club annexed two All-Ireland club titles during Kenny’s reign and the Galway native takes over from Pat Gilroy, who made tangible progress during his one year in charge.

There’s a strong Cuala presence in the county panel this year, with Sean Treacy, Mark Schutte and Darragh O’Connell all new additions to the squad.

Treacy says Kenny’s early focus was to familiarise himself with the players he hadn’t worked with at club level before

“I think the priority for him at the beginning was to get the know the rest of the players – he knows all us Cuala lads,” explains Treacy.

“It’s up to us then to get into good condition as quick as possible to get ready for the year. While the other players are getting used to Matty and he’s getting to know them, their strengths and weaknesses etc, we’re getting to know the new coaches who are involved there – Eoin Roche, Paul O’Brien and these lads.

“The message to the players is very simple, to take every match as it comes. That’s his personality from my experience.”

Dublin failed to make it out of Leinster last season but performed well and were on the wrong side of narrow defeats to Kilkenny, Wexford and Galway.

With a number of talented youngsters gaining valuable game-time in 2018, Treacy is hopeful the Sky Blues can make further inroads this year. 

“There was good progress made last year but Mattie’s single focus now is this season. It’s great to see it, he’s hungry to do as best as we can, and going out and trying to beat every single team we play is the priority now, beginning with the Walsh Cup.

“It’s getting as many players on the pitch now to see how it shapes up, to try out these new things, to get the best players on the pitch. It’s about getting our bodies right and being ready for the first round of the league against Carlow.

“Looking forward, it’s just about getting those one percents from last year. It’s not throwing everything out, it’s a case of where can we make improvements on what was done last year in Mattie’s style or whatever idea he has in his head.

“Great progress made last year but it’s a case of where can we add those differences instead of losing by a point or winning by a point. That starts with a big test on Sunday. We’ve had a good couple of games.

“Playing games every week is really beneficial towards us trying to get our style of hurling and knowing who plays where and making sure it’s organically becoming a system that we have.”

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Dublin manager Mattie Kenny.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

A hamstring niggle against Offaly cut the 29-year-old’s Walsh Cup campaign short, but the decision was taken primarily as a precaution given his history of injuries in that area

“It was just a little niggle against Offaly toward the end of the first half,” he explains. “Mainly precautionary because I’ve had issues with that before. 

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“I’m better off getting my body right at this time of the year and making sure that when I’m coming back that it’s all good. Because I don’t want to run into those issues half-way through the league or at the end of the league.”

Treacy is looking forward to lining out alongside his younger brother Sean in the Dublin colours this campaign.

“I just love being involved in that dressing room. Obviously, running and the slog, it just has to be done. You enjoy the feeling you feel after it. And you enjoy winning and being able to represent your county.

“Obviously, I’m playing with my brother this year – it’s great for my parents and I’m enjoying that as well. The enjoyment factor, without doubt, is still there for me.”

The recent retirements of Shane Durkin, Gary Maguire and Johnny McCaffrey saw three more members of Dublin’s 2013 Leinster winning side step away from the inter-county game.

“Amazing, amazing servants. Johnny McCaffrey, Gary and Shane Durkin. When I was starting in 2009 I couldn’t believe Johnny was only a couple of years older than me – only 21 and he had a huge stature on the team.

“Gary too, if you think he’s a good goalie, you should see some of the saves he pulls off in training and then Shane’s attitude, I admire Shane a lot for his attitude towards training. They’re huge losses, they’re all huge leaders.

“The new panel is hugely positive too so I think the main priority for us, looking ahead is to keep everyone fit, to learn as much as we can and to develop a style of play for the league.”

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