Danny is a Trump card for hurlers

Tightening of US visa regulations has given huge boost with the return of Danny Sutcliffe earlier than expected to the Dublin fold

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Danny Sutcliffe with young Dublin fan Dara Ryan, age 7, in Parnell Park to kick off the 2018 Dublin GAA season with team sponsors AIG Insurance. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

RETURNING Dublin hurling star Danny Sutcliffe didn’t plan to be back in a blue shirt quite so soon but now the St Jude’s clubman is looking forward to a new era for the game in the capital.
The Pat Gilroy era began on a disappointing note as the Boys in Blue shipped a 13-point defeat to Offaly in their opening Division 1B encounter on Sunday.
That hasn’t dampened the mood of optimism within the camp, however, as returning faces – including Sutcliffe and Conal Keaney – blend with hungry youngsters under fresh stewardship.
“It’s brilliant in there at the moment,” said Sutcliffe at the launch of the 2018 Dublin GAA season with AIG.
“You’ve lads I’ve played with previously and lads who are 18 and 19 that I wouldn’t have known of – Ronan Hayes, Cian Costello.
“It’s great being in the mix with all them and it’s very competitive for places.”
Gilroy has been credited with setting in motion the cultural shift that pre-empted Dublin’s emergence as arguably the greatest football side in history.
Now he’s set his mind to doing the same in hurling, but he hasn’t been short of luck either as Sutcliffe’s return to the panel shows.
It was the tightening of visa rules in the United States – where Sutcliffe had been working – under Donald Trump that saw St Jude’s clubman return home.
“It’s tough now with the visa situation. Any other year you probably would have got an 18-month extension on your grad visa, but that wasn’t available with Trump at the moment.
“Most people are going to London and Dublin anyway. London was maybe there but I made my mind up to commit to this so I’m based here now.”
Sutcliffe – who is facing a race against time to regain fitness ahead of Sunday’s meeting with Antrim – revealed he didn’t take much persuasion once Gilroy picked up the phone.
“He changed the culture of Dublin football when he came in. And I knew he had plans to do that with the hurling.
“He’s obviously a very successful man off the field, and he’s got Mickey Whelan with him who is held in high regard in Dublin, and rightly so. That’s what I went on.”
While stateside, Sutcliffe focused on football, where he represented New York in the Connacht championship, in part to keep fit but also to keep in touch with Gaelic games.
He was part of the side that caused a scare for Sligo in the preliminary round last year, but he poured cold water on any suggestion he’d contemplate representing Dublin in football.
“Hurling is where I always enjoyed playing. I wouldn’t be good enough for that football team anyway – let’s call a spade a spade.”