Saturday 18 November 2017

Blues braced for Kerry opener minus a batch of Sam heroes

DUBLIN will take on Kerry in their upcoming league opener shorn of at least a third of their Sam Maguire-winning starting team.

The eagerly-anticipated rematch of last year's All-Ireland final in Croke Park on Saturday, February 4 will come too soon for the two most recent recipients of the Footballers Of The Year award, brothers Alan and Bernard Brogan

In addition, All-Ireland final Man of the Match Kevin Nolan is expected to miss out while Barry Cahill and Dennis Bastick are also on Dublin's early-season missing list.

"Alan won't be around for three or four weeks," revealed Gilroy, who is also resigned to being without Bernard, only set to return to Ireland after an extended holiday the week before the Kingdom's visit. "He (Alan) has a knee problem. He was back training with us the first week back but it flared up so he won't be around for a while."

"Barry Cahill is back in Ireland this week but he could be out for five or six weeks. He just has a load of problems that he was playing through in the club championship."

Nolan, meanwhile, is currently remedying, as Gilroy described, "health issues" and won't be back in full training until after the beginning of Dublin's spring campaign. Gilroy explained: "He probably won't be back for (the start of) the league but he'll be alright after that.

"Dennis Bastick is coming back from the operation he had after the All-Ireland," he continued. "He's also on his honeymoon." Cruciate victims, Paul Griffin and James Brogan are at the latter end of their rehabilitations but won't be risked until such time as they have proved their full fitness.

"At this stage I would say we're unlikely to have Dennis, we're unlikely to have the two Brogans, Paul Griffin, James Brogan, Kevin Nolan or Barry Cahill," he added.


"But a few more are a bit dicey and they're only getting back into things. Even Eamon (Fennell) - even though he played (against UCD on Saturday night) -- he's getting treatment for an injury."

However, Gilroy is hopeful that All Star wing-forward Paul Flynn, who made his first appearance since the All-Ireland final for DCU yesterday, will be back to optimum health following his serious hamstring injury. Dublin have utilised the league to strong effect in the past two seasons, making last year's final and coming within a point of doing so in 2010, so unsurprisingly Gilroy feels a consistent spring will form a key part of championship preparation.

"You get so few games that you've got to try and get the best out of yourself in those games," he said. "You only get seven games in the league and six or seven at most in the championship so it's not as if you get to try things out. We prepared for this year like you prepared for the last three: we tried to be in good shape.

"Ok, we were a bit later coming into the first year but the last two years we put in a huge effort to be in good shape for the league because it comes at you very quick.," he added.

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