"You need to be able to hurl your way out of trouble" - Composure the key to Dunphy's game 3 weeks ago

"You need to be able to hurl your way out of trouble" - Composure the key to Dunphy's game

St Brigid's club-man Andrew Dunphy is among the new breed of Dublin hurlers who are hoping to turn the tide on their Leinster rivals.

At under-age level, he has managed it. At schools level, they have managed it and at senior level, well, he's hopeful that Dublin's day is coming.

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Their defeat of Galway in the 2020 Leinster U20 hurling final has arguably been one of the best results a Dublin hurling team has had in recent years.

As their small but powerful full back, Dunphy was captain that day and he also wore the number three jersey two years earlier, in 2018, when his Dublin north college's team defeated St Kieran's of Kilkenny to win the Leinster final. So he's no stranger to coming out on top on the big days.

These results would suggest Dublin have the talent there but at senior level, in recent times anyway, they just haven't had the consistency.

Dunphy was one of the first of that young group of hurlers to make the step-up onto the senior team, featuring in the League and championship under Mattie Kenny over the last two seasons.

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Dublin impressed at times but during those two seasons, but while they ultimately failed to deliver, Dunphy did impress. With his coolness in possession, and his tenacious defending, the young corner back was one of the bright spots.

"The way the game has gone now, corner backs tend to get on a small bit more ball than they used to, with short puck-outs and everything," Dunphy tells us at the launch of the Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup.

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"You need to be able to hurl your way out of trouble if you're stuck in a corner or if you've to work the ball out. So it is something you need to concentrate on, your stick-work and your speed of hurling."

In many ways, he's something of a prototype of the modern corner back, what with that composure on the ball and base-strength.

"When you're playing underage, it's never that important, the tactics or the short puck-outs, but when you come into minor and u20, there's a huge emphasis on it. So you have to be able to play the ball out or you'll be exposed, and if you're not good at it, you have to improve.

"Yeah, you're not just spending 60 or 70 minutes just sledging lads anymore," he adds of playing corner back.

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"It is good that you're getting on more ball. You do see corner-backs getting up the pitch and being able to score points. The role is a bit more versatile than it was."

Mattie Kenny has since left the job, to be replaced by Micheál Donoghue and as the Galway man began his tenure with a Walsh Cup win over Antrim, it was notable that Dunphy's underage team-mates Enda O'Donnell and Darach McBride were among the young players making the step-up to senior level.

"The physicality, and the pressure you're under on the ball is up at senior level," says Dunphy.

"You've no time on the ball and you're constantly getting hit hard and tackled the whole time so you know, the intensity is another 20% so you just have to get up to the speed of hurling and get everything improved a little bit.

"Us young lads would have taken great confidence out of beating Kieran’s [College] and beating Galway in a Leinster final at U20 naturally gives you that little boost when you win those big games. They are pressure scenarios so when you come out on top there it does give you that little bit of confidence."

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Before that though, he has an Electric Ireland Fitzgibbon Cup campaign to focus on with DCU. Dunphy loves playing for the college, and he says he's made some great friends along the way.

"It is hard to get everyone out but there were plenty of times, like when we had the League before Christmas, we had a few nights out and got to know each other."

Pictured is DCU Dóchas Éireann hurler Andrew Dunphy, as Electric Ireland teams up with six inter-county Camogie and GAA stars to look ahead to the upcoming matches and rivalries across the Electric Ireland Camogie Third Level Championships and the Electric Ireland GAA Higher Education Championships. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tom Maher