"The guys who choose to play hurling are the guys we should be talking about" 4 months ago

"The guys who choose to play hurling are the guys we should be talking about"

Niall Corcoran might be a biological son of Galway but he's been involved with Dublin hurling that long, he was even there when Conal Keaney was playing.

Wait, what?

He's still playing?

Whatever, Corcoran is a Kilmacud Crokes man and he's heavily invested in the club as a player and as a coach and as a Games Promotion Officer in the local schools. Men like Corcoran have helped mobilise hurling in Dublin. He might've been there when the county won the national league title in 2011 or beat Kilkenny in '13 but there's a feeling that this could be a different beast now. Like the sleeping giant is finally threaten to stir.

The capital has advanced to the knockout rounds to contest for Liam MacCarthy and, on the way, they've dumped out the mighty Galway and flat-out denied them a chance of making the preliminary quarter-finals, never mind a third All-Ireland final in a row.

A lot of that success is down to the investment in players who want to play hurling for Dublin and a deliberate move away from the tales of what might've been or what could be if him or her or his brother would all get involved.

No. In a many counties, you can play football or hurling and either team loses out in either direction. Then, you work with what you have. And Dublin are no longer pining for what they don't have.

"Lads make choices," Corcoran said, speaking as a key figure for the Bank of Ireland Kilmacud Crokes Mini All-Irelands

"You go to play hurling or you go to play football and whatever you have, you have and you go with that. 

"Dublin have fantastic hurlers first and foremost and they've a squad there that's probably the strongest hurling squad Dublin have ever had. Stronger than any squad I was on.

"There's huge talent in the squad and I think the focus has to be on developing those players and focusing on the guys who actually want to play the game of hurling. That's what's important. 

"I think we get distracted by fellas who could be there but aren't. We're missing the bigger picture. There's huge work going into the development of these players and the guys who choose to play hurling, for me, are the most important. They're the guys we should be talking about it."

Thousands of kids take part in the Kilmacud Crokes tournament (Photo by Naoise Culhane).

Corcoran is currently on the Laois backroom team, helping Kilkenny legend Eddie Brennan with the O'Moore county and could yet be pitted with his adopted county of Dublin if the midland outfit can come through the Joe McDonagh Cup.

That wasn't on his mind in Parnell Park though when the sky blue coloured the grass and song rang out through the north Dublin air. It was just special to marvel in the idea that Dublin was rising.

"At the end of the game, you had a sea of supporters on the pitch and 'Come On You Boys In Blue' was sung proudly. The last time that happened was in Portlaoise in 2013 when we beat Kilkenny and that's six years ago," Corcoran explained. 

"It was a brilliant, brilliant win and long overdue.

"The atmosphere in Parnell Park is something I never experienced.

"As big and all as the league games are played there, this was a championship game against a team who's played in the last two All-Ireland finals and who would've been one of the favourites for the championship. It doesn't get much bigger than that. 

"To beat Galway, it just brings such a buzz in Dublin hurling again. It gets the appetite for hurling in Dublin and the confidence for players to push on. It was just unreal."

Now, he'll hope to help Laois to a position to contest with these boys.

But first, he'll be looking after the finals of the Bank of Ireland Kilmacud Crokes Mini All-Irelands and they start unfolding on Friday.

Corcoran could yet be in the opposite dugout to Dublin this summer but he's working every day to secure a bright future for the county's hurlers.