controversy | 

Humphrey Kelleher calls for review’ of Dublin hurling amid Eoghan O’Donnell decision

Eoghan O’Donnell has plumped for Dublin's football panel

Frank Roche

Eoghan O’Donnell’s shock link-up with the Dublin football squad is symptomatic of what has been “wrong with Dublin hurling” for many years, according to former Sky Blues boss Humphrey Kelleher.

With Mattie Kenny’s team already out of the championship and Dessie Farrell’s resurgent footballers through to an All-Ireland quarter-final, Kelleher doesn’t blame Dublin’s captain for taking up the offer.

Rather, he views it as a further sign that young Dublin hurlers are not getting the type of underage coaching required to maximise their potential, fuelling the drip-drip of star players into football’s box-office embrace.

“If I was involved in a county set-up, if Eoghan O’Donnell wants to go play football, let him go off and play football,” Kelleher told

“Dublin hurling is bigger than any one player. And don’t get me wrong – Eoghan O’Donnell is the captain, he’s a fine player.

“But somebody else will come along, and a lot of times you don’t blame these lads.

“But it is a bigger question that we must answer in Dublin in hurling, and this reflects it sadly. I don’t think we’re coaching the proper way at schools; I don’t think we’re giving all the attention to hurling as we should.

“We have to have a nuts-and-bolts type of review of how we’re attending to hurlers at the very young age. It’s been a bugbear of mine for years and years,” added the ‘Friends of Dublin Hurling’ secretary.

“Twenty-odd years ago we wrote the blueprint. There was a certain amount of improvement. We got much more players playing hurling, and now we’ve got to show them how to play it right.

“Eoghan O’Donnell is reflecting the fact that we’re not giving enough attention to hurling at the underage level,” he asserted.

“We thought that the GPOs would be brought into hurling, which is what our plan was back 20 years ago … that didn’t pan out at all. Essentially what you have now, they are consumed with all the other organisations, within schools and clubs, these very good coaches – they’re not allowed to do what they were initially (brought) to do, and that is to show how to do it right.

“So, I think this is just another player but it’s reflective of what I feel has been wrong with Dublin hurling for many, many years. We tried to change it. There are good hurlers. There’s marvellous work being done in Coláiste Eoin out in Stillorgan, as you know.

“But for a county the size of Dublin, we should have ten Coláiste Eoins within our set-up and we don’t. Why? Because we don’t have the right coaches; we don’t have the right type of approach to the coaching concept.

“We cannot expect good hurlers like Eoghan O’Donnell – and Conal Keaney and Shane Ryan, and Con O’Callaghan and Cormac Costello, it goes on and on and on – because those players can see that we’re not giving the correct attention to the hurling. And unless we do that, we’re going to have more fellas going.”

Kelleher, who endured a difficult 18-month reign as the county’s senior manager in the mid-noughties, cited previous ground-breaking achievements by Dublin hurling at minor, U-21 and colleges level.

“But to make that breakthrough, we have to step it up to senior success. Okay, we have a national league (from 2011); we have a Leinster championship (from 2013). But that’s insignificant compared to what we should be having,” the Waterford native claimed.

“And unless we coach the players right, we’re never going to be contending for All-Ireland medals.”

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