Moran says Dublin hurlers can replicate Cuala's winning culture
By John Harrington
Ask AIB GAA Club Hurler of the Year, Sean Moran, what the key to Cuala’s back to back All-Ireland hurling titles has been and he’ll tell you it’s their culture.
Five years ago they were a Division Two Senior League club in Dublin, but since then a generation of players has grown up together and developed an unbreakable bond.
They’re not just team-mates on the field, they’re best friends off it, and that Band of Brothers ethos is very evident in the hugely committed way they play the game.
But can the sort of culture that has transformed Cuala into the best hurling club in the country for the past two years be replicated in the Dublin hurling dressing-room?
Moran joined up with Pat Gilroy’s panel this week for the first time this year and is convinced that it can, though it might take some time.
“Absolutely (it can),” said Moran. “It’s tougher maybe for players that wouldn’t have played with each other as much growing up. It takes longer to build that culture and that ethos, that friendship with players. But we have a great setup there with Dublin, it’s another great group of players.”
Moran is one of four Cuala players to join up with Dublin this week along with David Treacy, Cian O’Callaghan, and Jake Malone.
Their winning mentality and big-match experience should be hugely valuable to a young Dublin panel that has so far this year been prone to inconsistency.
“We're going to offer as much as we can coming back in,” said Moran. “We have, obviously, a bit of experience in the two years we've had.
“Our main focus is going to be to bring things up a gear. Gearing up for championship, training gets that bit more intense. We're looking to just come back into the set-up. We want to be a benefit to Dublin, going forward.
“We want to come in and add as much as we can to the season we've had. Whatever that may be, whatever is asked of us, we'll do it to the best of our ability. We're hoping to kick things on from here as we prepare for the championship.”
Moran is convinced there is no shortage of talented young hurlers in Dublin because Cuala have always had to battle hard in each of the last three seasons to win their county championship.
They’ve been pushed to the pin of their collars again in recent weeks by St. Brigid’s and Craobh Chiarain in the first two rounds of the 2018 Dublin Championship, and Moran believes the stiffness of the club competition should bode well for the future of the county team.
“The personnel is definitely there within the Dublin club setup to have a really top quality intercounty team,” he said.
“It’s definitely there. I think the guys are there have trained during the week.
“There’s a huge skill level there definitely. It’s just about bringing what we have in training into matches and that determination into our games."
The Leinster Senior Hurling Championship should have an extra edge this year.
Not only is the first time it’ll be contested in a round-robin format, but whoever comes last in the province will be relegated down to the newly formed Joe McDonagh Cup.
Moran says that’s not playing on the minds of the Dublin players. They’re focused on winning a Leinster title, not worried about dropping out of the Championship altogether.
“Yeah, there’s that aspect to it,” said Moran. “It's a round-robin system for the first time so there's a different edge to it. The schedule is condensed, you've got four games in five weeks.
“It's going to be a hectic championship - you'll have a lot of good games. The relegation side, we know, but our goal this year is not to stay safe in the Leinster Championship - our goal this year is to challenge for the Leinster crown.
“That's going to be the challenge ahead of us and that's our goal. That's what we're going to be working towards over the next couple of months.”