A STRONG final quarter from Dublin saw them record a two-point victory over the Dubs Stars in their annual Evening Herald/Dublin Bus Dubs Stars challenge match on the Blakestown Road yesterday afternoon.
Jim Gavin looked to be heading for a defeat in his first official outing as Dublin manager but inspired by a typically classy showing from Thomas Davis' Paul Hudson, the Dubs reeled in their gritty opponents through their greater depth of options from the bench.
Given the experimental nature of his selection, due to a variety of reasons, Gavin would be pleased with the industry and application displayed throughout with Tomás Brady making a positive initial impression following his switch from hurling with a composed showing at both full-back and centre-back.
Given 10 substitutes were used over the course of the game, few were allowed sufficient time to make a notable impression but Hudson shone from the outset with his economic style accounting for six points, five coming from play.
That his scores proved so pivotal was down to a hugely competitive performance from the Dubs Stars, backboned by the Dublin and Leinster club champions Ballymun Kickhams, with Chris Guckian from St Jude's offering a solid foundation from centre-back.
In attack, Paddy Andrews gave a customary vibrant display at centre-forward with Ted Furman and Micheal McCarthy ensuring the Dubs Stars gained tangible reward for a healthy amount of possession.
A reasonably tight affair was expected and so it proved from the opening whistle with Paddy Quinn's second-minute point for Dublin cancelled out when Dean Rock converted an eighth-minute free following a foul on Paul Mannion.
Mannion was forced to retire at that stage, depriving the contest of his sublime talent but James Burke ensured the quality on offer never waned with a glorious point from distance three minutes later to hand the Dubs Stars the lead.
Sean Currie's value to Ballymun's success in 2012 was enforced by a wonderful save to deny Quinn from close range in the 16th minute but Robbie McCarthy, for the time being a member of host club St Peregrine's, levelled matters with a sublime score from under the stand within three minutes.
The contest remained nip-and-tuck from that point with Furman and Andrews tagging on scores for the Dubs Stars, but the Dubs responded well with Diarmuid Connolly, Hudson and Michael Darragh Macauley all finding the target towards the end of the half.
That they entered the break in arrears was down to some clever interplay between Dean Rock and McCarthy, with the latter firing low across Vincent Whelan in first-half injury-time for the game's solitary goal.
With Dublin introducing eight replacements for the second-half, the rhythm of their play suffered initially with the Dubs Stars building a three-point lead within 10 minutes thanks to points by McCarthy and Andrews.
Hudson and Connolly began to impose themselves on proceedings while substitutes Ciaran Reddin and Craig Dunleavy added points to create a narrow lead for Gavin's men.
Harry Dawson's point entering injury-time looked to have provided Dublin with the necessary cushion but a driving run from the impressive James McCarthy handed his club-mate Philip McMahon the perfect opportunity to restore parity but the latter's shot flew over the crossbar.