herald

Thursday 21 August 2014

Gavin's Dublin have hunger

A YEAR ago, the Dubs arrived in Carlow to a guard of honour and a seven-point victory, two weeks before Kildare ambushed them in front of a feisty crowd in Newbridge.

In between Dublin had accounted for the students of UCD at their ease by 14 points.

It was the sort of tepid, lacklustre start to the year that would eventually define their season, culminating in calamity in Croke Park when September arrived and in a neat, hindsight-packaged parcel, a day apparently indicative of their entire year.

Back then, there was no great stock being placed in January though. Or February for that matter. Or March, April, May, June or July either.

Dublin had a team of All-Ireland champions, no significant retirements and a wash of new blood to arrive from the U21s in due course, so no act completed prior to the commencement of August Bank Holiday hostilities had any real significance for anyone inside the camp, whatever the view from afar.

As it happened, Pat Gilroy named 14 of his All-Ireland starters for the Mayo match almost 12 months later, and they were beaten, a sign -- depending on your point of view -- that what lay behind the matchday 20 wasn't strong enough, the established men had not been pushed sufficiently hard and the necessary upping of standards from their 2011 glory had not been achieved.

Now, with a new man at the helm, it is entirely plausible that a sea change of sorts is in the offing. That by the time Dublin hit the summer, both the names and their tactical makeup will have been altered radically. And for Jim Gavin, there is enormous scope to play whatever style of game he feels will benefit Dublin in the long-term.

There exists, for the first time in a lifetime at least, a pool of talent in Dublin so deep with potential that the new manager's auditioning process could be the most important group of decisions he makes pre-summer.

Some good players will be cut adrift in the coming months and there must be a sense of urgency from those currently inside the tent that being good enough to play inter-county may not quite be good enough.

Take young Paul Hudson as an example. He shone brightest last Tuesday and kicked five points from play (six in total) against the Evening Herald Dubs Stars selection to earn an extended run out with the group, even when the more established forwards return to what is already a clustered battle zone.

He will, at some stage though, be vying against some combination involving Alan and Bernard Brogan, Diarmuid Connolly, Kevin McManamon, Paddy Andrews, Eoghan O'Gara, Dean Rock, Paul Mannion, Míceal McCarthy, Robbie McCarthy, Philly Ryan, Cormac Costello and Harry Dawson for the same squad space, let alone the three inside forward spots.

The manager will leave his Ballymun contingent alone and must plan without a high percentage of his squad due to their college commitments but there is enough quality with enough motivation for Dublin to mount a credible assault on this competition.

ODDS: Carlow 6/1, Draw 14/1, Dublin 1/12

VERDICT: Dublin

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