Mickey Whelan expects Dublin's hurlers to develop further
By Cian O'Connell
Mickey Whelan believes the Dublin hurlers can make further progress under new manager Mattie Kenny.
The highly regarded Whelan was involved in Pat Gilroy's coaching team in 2018 and believes that Dublin can improve under Kenny's stewardship.
Dublin's mix of emerging talent and experienced performers blended well according to Whelan, who was satisfied with how the campaign unfolded. “It was a positive year," Whelan reflects. "I thought we made progress. We were seen as a kind of a football management team going in, but Anthony (Cunningham) gave that a bit of credibility.
“But I think the players rowed in behind us and did a very good job. I was happy with our outcomes. And we had to go the way we went because we got in very late. We had to elevate the fitness levels. That had to be done at the expense of the League.
"We knew we had to beat Offaly to stay up and we knew we had to have them at their best to meet Kilkenny in the first round of the Championship. And it kind of worked out for us.”
Galway native Kenny steered Cuala to two AIB All Ireland Club victories with Whelan impressed by that achievement. “I think this guy will do a great job now," Whelan says.
"He has won two Club All-Irelands. And the other minus, but a positive is Cuala are out of it, out of the Championship so they’ll have these guys early. We didn’t have them until close to the Championship.”
Work commitments forced Gilroy to step down from the role with Whelan acknowledging that the man who guided Dublin to All Ireland Football success in 2011 was disappointed to leave the position.
“Shattered," Whelan stated. "He’s shattered. He was hoping that it could be done without him, but it can’t. So he had to do it. And he’s really upset about it. But he did a great job when he was in. I talked it through with him. I was telling him it was great, go for it. So he said will you come in with me? So I did. That’s what you do.
“But I thought we put together a nice setup and got it off the ground. And we changed it a little bit. We changed the mental profile. And that’s important. You have to be prepared to hurt to get anywhere, to make the steps you need.”
Whelan expects Gilroy to return to the senior inter-county arena at some stage in the future. "Absolutely, absolutely, yeah," Whelan replies. "Sure, I’ve one foot in the grave here and I’m involved, why wouldn’t he get involved again. He’s a young man, a very young man. He’ll be back involved, yeah.
"He has very good management skills. He’s an engineer and a lot of engineers go on and become managers of all sorts of business."
Injuries and some harrowing Championship losses meant fortune didn't favour a brave Dublin outfit in the summer. “Oh yeah, but you take that, you’ll take that," Whelan accepts.
"Once you look underneath that and now that we did a good job. The players, the older guys, (Liam) Rushe and (Conal) Keaney and (Danny) Sutcliffe, they were key to it too.
"I’m assuming they’ll be back, they’re great players. There was a lot of work to be done and Pat put a lot of time in. The management team put a lot of time in, Anthony Cunningham was travelling up and down so, lookit, you’ve enough about that but it was good, I enjoyed it immensely.
"I was a bit sad though that we were stopping because I figured we could have gone to the next level."