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Thursday 8 December 2016

D-Day for the Dubs as footballers and hurlers get season started

Dublin team manager Jim Gavin, right, with Dr David Hickey
Dublin team manager Jim Gavin, right, with Dr David Hickey

DUBLIN'S football and hurlers begin their summers in wildly opposing circumstances in Croke Park tomorrow.

Jim Gavin's footballers get their latest All-Ireland bid under way with what is widely expected to be a routine win over Longford (4.0), the first stop on a Leinster Championship campaign plenty feel will amount to nothing more than a procession.

Indeed, they stand currently as unbackable favourites to win a 10th Delaney Cup in 11 years and have also been installed as pre-Championship favourites for Sam Maguire.

In contrast, the hurlers face potentially a season-defining match against Galway (2.0) in the latest episode of what has become something of a sparky rivalry since the Tribesmen's arrival in Leinster in 2009.

"When you're coming up against an All-Ireland contender in the first round, it definitely does focus the mind a bit more," admitted Dublin co-captain Peter Kelly who, along with Liam Rushe, will lead Dublin in Ger Cunningham's first Championship match as Sky Blues manager in Croke Park.

A win would unfurl a navigable route towards the All-Ireland series for Dublin, with either Offaly or Laois awaiting in the provincial semi-finals.

Conversely, with Clare already lurking in the qualifier draw and either Cork or Waterford to come, the losers could face a daunting backdoor match to salvage their summer.

"We know Galway. We know exactly what to expect," Kelly insisted, having played in both of Dublin's recent Championship victories over Galway in 2011 and 2013.

"We know to expect a very tough team, a very tough game that will probably come down to the wire."

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