Sunday 17 December 2017

Dubs to have plenty of options for trip to Kerry in three weeks

Hugh McFadden, Donegal, in action against Eoin Culligan, Dublin. Allianz Football League, Division 1, Round 2, Dublin v Donegal. Croke Park, Dublin
Hugh McFadden, Donegal, in action against Eoin Culligan, Dublin. Allianz Football League, Division 1, Round 2, Dublin v Donegal. Croke Park, Dublin

"THEY'RE probably a wee bit more cautious than they had been," offered Rory Gallagher in contrasting and comparing the Dublin 2015 version with the one torn asunder by his players just last year.

"They're still very good on their own kickouts and carry a huge threat inside.

"Listen, they've lots of good footballers but I'll not worry about them for a long while yet."

In the fallout to that All-Ireland semi-final, Gavin pledged only minor tweaks, rather than structural change, to the methods that brought an All-Ireland and two League titles.

Made sense.


The main difference, it seems on the evidence of Dublin's first two League games of this year, being the refusal of John Small to evacuate that central channel - the one through which Donegal joylessly poured last September - without the installation of a covering team mate.

"We'd know him from the under-21s," praised Gavin of the night's official Man of the Match.

"He was an outstanding player at that grade and minor and at senior with his club, Ballymun Kickhams, so we know his form and his performance there is just a reflection of how he plays with his club."

The good news didn't stop there for Gavin either.

After a hugely promising beginning to inter-county football and the subsequent scything down of his 2014 ambitions, Ciarán Kilkenny made his comeback from ACL surgery as a substitute for Tomás Brady.

"We weren't holding him back," Gavin (inset) insisted of Kilkenny's return date.

"We always say when the players are ready they're ready and we don't put dates in the diary at all. When they're ready they come to us and say it.

"Ciarán had played a game for St Pat's last week and a game with Castleknock, he felt ready to go and the opportunity to bring him in arose and I think he did well.

"He's worked really hard and his performance was a reflection of that."

Brady's knock was described by Gavin as "just a soft tissue injury" and "nothing spectacular", although Eoin Culligan's injury injury looked much more serious.

The Kilmacud Crokes defender left Croke Park with his right arm in a sling.


"Yeah, he just got a little knock on the shoulder but he's a tough man," said Gavin non-specifically.

"He'll be back."

Saturday night also saw a debut for 2012 All-Ireland minor winning captain, David Byrne and a seasonal return for Bernard Brogan, though his involvement was brief and peripheral.

"Paul Flynn returning to training, Cian O'Sullivan and James McCarthy too," outlined Gavin of the potential additions to his options in three week's time, when Dublin go to Killarney to face Kerry.

"Michael Darragh Macaulety picked up a little niggle with the club last weekend, we thought he'd be OK, it just didn't work out for him yesterday.

"Stephen Cluxton will be back too."

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