DCU aces get chance to stake Dubs claim against Kildare
DON'T be wholly surprised if Pat Gilroy takes as much interest in events in Newbridge this weekend as he did last Sunday when the Sky Blue party was ended so abruptly.
Live on TG4 and in front of a boisterous and expectant home crowd, Gilroy's team were vanquished in somewhat predictable fashion by the early blooming local Lilies, a reality check doubling up as a New Year reminder that things are about to go a whole level tougher for the All-Ireland champions.
Events in Sunday's O'Byrne Cup final between Kildare and DCU could, however, present the Dublin manager with some added weaponry with which to take on the fight as the University side come adorned with 10 Dubs of their own.
And now that DCU's Sigerson opener with Cork IT has been pushed back a week, Niall Moyna's men can travel to Newbridge with a deck stuffed with all his various inter-county aces.
It's one of the most prominent on the list of perennial January questions flung at whichever team happens to lift Sam Maguire the previous September (falling right after that old nugget: 'Will they have the hunger to do it again?').
What can they add to the mix to make the team better without diluting or upsetting the properties which brought success in the first place?
Speaking to the Herald before Christmas, days after the county final, Gilroy acknowledged that unlike previous years, the vast majority of the major performers in the club championship were already 'on his books' and, as such, only a small handful would be making the transition for the start of 2012.
And so far, just one of last year's talented Dublin minor squad, John Small, has made the step up. That percentage of immediate graduation looks set to stay low for another year at least.
In DCU, though, Gilroy has a well of talent waiting to be tapped.
"We have some huge footballers at DCU," acknowledged James McCarthy. Although, as he pointed out, not all of them are Dubs.
"You see David Kelly there in the forwards, he's one of the best forwards I've ever played with. He's brilliant. But yeah, there are some great footballers at DCU."
Outside of regulars McCarthy, Philly McMahon, Paul Flynn and Eoghan O'Gara, the college can also call on Johnny Cooper, Gary Sweeney, Dean Rock, Eoin Culligan, Ryan O'Flaherty and Cormac Diamond.
And Cooper, Sweeney and Rock -- All-Ireland under-21 medallists in 2010 -- are attracting the greatest level of attention.
Cooper was commanding and vibrant last week in DCU's semi-final victory over Meath -- a result and performance which was overshadowed by the subsequent row that sparked between Moyna and Jim McGuinness over the handling of Martin McElhinney.
The Na Fianna man played centre-back, kept Graham Reilly scoreless from play, read the game