Dublin senior hurling boss Anthony Daly says that St Brigid’s netminder Alan Nolan is in fine form and raring to go for the Leinster championship final against Kilkenny this Sunday at 4pm in Croke Park.
The Russell Park man has been deputising for Gary Maguire since he fractured his thumb in a club game for Ballyboden St Enda’s against St Pat’s Palmerstown in May, missing the Leinster semi-final win over Wexford.
His cast will not be removed until the Wednesday following the Leinster final, meaning Nolan is already pencilled into the team sheet for a rare appearance after a number of years backing up Maguire.
But Daly reckons that the 27-year-old is a strong replacement for such a key position.
“[Alan] Noley’s not a greenhorn at this stage,” the Dubs manager said on Monday evening. “He’s played in a lot of big games now at this stage. He’s mad for this. He’s bursting to get his chance for ages. Going by him in training, he’s very sharp.”
He will hope to play his part in a piece of history as Dublin go in search of back-to-back Dublin titles for the first time since 1942 following last year’s breakthrough success.
Add in that Dublin’s minors will open the double-bill against the Cats at 2pm and it makes for a lively day out all round.
Danny Sutcliffe, however, looks borderline to play due to a fracture in his hand but Daly anticipates Liam Rushe and Ryan O’Dwyer will be in better health than when they took the field in the Wexford game.
Mark Schutte is likely to be out until All-Ireland semi-final day at the earliest with his arm in a sling still with a dislocated shoulder.
The Kilkenny double bill has a certain resonance to it in the wake of Dublin’s recent rise to prominence on the hurling circuit.
They last met Kilkenny in the 2011 Minor and Senior deciders and on that occasion they were victorious defeating the Cats 1-14 to 1-11 at minor level but Dublin were defeated in the senior final, 4-17 to 1-15.
Dublin came back in 2012 to retain their Leinster MHC crown and so are going for a third title at that level in four years, Kilkenny breaking the sequence in 2013.
But the Dubs have the form guide in their favour courtesy of a 2-8 to 0-3 victory in April in Nowlan Park in the preliminary phases of this competition to give them the confidence that they built on with two subsequent wins over Wexford.