Sunday 24 February 2019

Dub cubs get final chance for League


Colm Basquel has been putting his hand up for league selection in 2018 with his O’Byrne Cup form to date. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Colm Basquel has been putting his hand up for league selection in 2018 with his O’Byrne Cup form to date. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

You just couldn't say that Dublin winning the O'Byrne Cup last year sat well with the rest of Leinster.

Certainly, the circumstances of their victory in the final irritated then Louth manager, Colin Kelly - now with Westmeath.

Kelly's team would go on to top Division 3 last spring but they were ransacked by Paul Clarke's experimental side by 2-16 to 1-10 and totally over-run in the second-half in front of their own people that wet day in Drogheda.

"I'm going to have to listen to a load of stuff now about the Dublin third team," he sighed afterwards.

Kelly had a point to make, though. Many of the players who had beaten his team may not have been in the top 40 in their county.

But they were products of the same culture.

"They brim hugely with confidence. They've a high skill set," he stresed.

"These lads aren't being plucked out of obscurity in Dublin club football.

"There's a lot of them with All-Ireland medals. And they are accomplished footballers.

"And they've probably come along in an era when Dublin have the best Gaelic football team of all time."

All of which applies to Clarke's 2018 bunch, albeit the prospect of retaining the O'Byrne Cup is now remote.

By consequence, the chances of squeezing into Jim Gavin's spring plans have surely narrowed.

Last year, eight of Clarke's O'Byrne Cup squad saw some action under Gavin thereafter.

And while there might not be as many obvious candidates based on the sole evidence of Wednesday night's draw with Offaly, the number of call-ups will surely depend on how Gavin plans to manage the early-season load of his late 20s/early 30s front liners.

For that reason, Aaron Byrne and Paddy Small may rue missing this audition through injury.

Colm Basquel is, however, surely nailed-on for a start against Kildare on January 27.

Shane Carthy, meanwhile, advanced his own claims for a recall with three points and some intelligent distribution, although Dublin struggled badly on both kick-outs

And Killian O'Gara showed some of his brother's penchant for ball-winning, albeit through less conventional, slip-and-slide methods.

What isn't certain is whether Brian Howard - another player that is almost certain to play some part against Kildare - lines out at centre-back.

Whether this is because that's where this team most needs him or because Gavin sees him as a long-term candidate to replace, or at least deputise for, Cian O'Sullivan, we will see.

Dublin would have to win by 17 points (or 16 if they score more than the 3-16 that Offaly beat Wexford by) here to make the O'Byrne Cup semi-final.

A couple of big individual performances by those spring wannabes would be of far greater benefit, however.

  • O'Byrne Cup Wexford v Dublin Enniscorthy, Tomorrow, 2.0

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