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Tuesday 27 June 2017

Young Dubs go down

McCaffrey central to UCD victory as Dublin slow to get out of traps

Dublin’s Ryan Deegan tries to break through the tackle of UCD’s Niall McInerney during last
night’s Bord na Móna O’Byrne Cup clash at Parnell Park. Pic: Sportsfile
Dublin’s Ryan Deegan tries to break through the tackle of UCD’s Niall McInerney during last night’s Bord na Móna O’Byrne Cup clash at Parnell Park. Pic: Sportsfile

Technically this was Dublin's first loss in 359 days.

But arriving, as it did last night in Parnell Park against UCD, from a team featuring no one who played in either of last year's All-Ireland finals managed by someone not currently part of Jim Gavin's backroom team, it comes with an asterisk.

Predictions that this O'Byrne Cup team made up of high-performing club and recent county underage players not currently holidaying with the Sam Maguire winning panel in Jamaica might actually claim the one available cup not currently held by Dublin seem premature now.

Praise

UCD were the more cohesive last night and John Divilly's team got the two points.

A win against DCU in Belfield this Sunday and they will could claim the semi-final spot from Group 1 - depending on Dubs result against Wexford in Enniscorthy.

Dublin’s Gary Sweeney and UCD’s Jack McCaffrey battle for possession last night. Pic: Sportsfile
Dublin’s Gary Sweeney and UCD’s Jack McCaffrey battle for possession last night. Pic: Sportsfile

Naturally enough, on a night featuring far more cut and discernibly higher levels of thrust from Dublin's victory over DCU last Sunday, all eyes in Parnell Park last night were trained closely to Jack McCaffrey.

Having completed a half of football for UCD last week in Gorey and with the praise of Wexford manager, Seamus McEnaney, ringing in his ears, he managed the full 76 minutes last night at left half-back, the position from where he earned his 2015 Footballer of the Year award.

Late in the first half, he stopped an almost certain Dublin goal at a time when his county could desperately have done with one.

Gary Sweeney, the pacey wing-forward from St Sylvester's, went hurtling through but McCaffrey stuck the pace and made the block.

It preserved a chunky and deserved lead for UCD.

Going forward, McCaffrey hovered on the periphery and made ground with almost every ball-carry.

He kicked a late point on the run and tipped an even later Paul Hudson free over the bar when a goal would have salvaged a draw for Dublin.

Playing into a stiff wind on a bitter night in Donnycarney, Paul Clarke's experimental team took 31 minutes to register their opening score.

By the time Paul Hudson split the Church End posts to ironic cheers, Dublin had already kicked seven wides.

More pertinently, UCD had scored 1-6.

Their goal came from Cavan corner-forward Tom Hayes who made the most of Evan Comerford's error of judgement in the 29th minute.

Eamon Wallace's shot looked for all the world to be falling wide of Comerford's right hand post but it hit the upright, catching last year's Dublin minor 'keeper out of position. Hayes gathered and bundled a goal that widened UCD's lead to nine points.

To then, Dublin - featuring a dozen of those who looked so slick against UCD on the same pitch just three days earlier - were laboured and frustrated, though Maitias MacDonncha scored a delicious, curled goal late in the half.

With the wind in the second-half, they made a game of it, with sub Ross Hazley making a strong impression and scoring two points but just as they had UCD pegged back to a point, substitute Seán Meade squeezed a goal past Comerford. McCaffrey injury-time 'save' then confirmed defeat for his county.

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