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Wednesday 22 August 2018

Giller beefs up Dublin defence

All-Ireland heroes Nolan and O'Sullivan to make first starts

DUBLIN boss Pat Gilroy has recalled two of his All-Ireland-winning defensive lynchpins, Cian O'Sullivan and Kevin Nolan, for their first starts of the season against Donegal tomorrow night.

But another star man who has yet to feature this season -- the currently injured Bernard Brogan -- has admitted he'll only be fit to play in this year's Allianz Football League if the Dubs qualify for the knockout stages.

Difficult

The task of reaching the Division One semi-finals has been made more difficult by last Sunday's surprise defeat in Down, after which manager Pat Gilroy admitted that the Mourne men's "intensity" in the first half "really gave us a lesson".

Gilroy has now reacted to his team's second league reversal by naming a radically altered defence for tomorrow's concluding 'Spring Series' encounter under the Croke Park lights (throw-in 7.15).

There are three personnel changes in the back-line and one positional switch too. O'Sullivan will be making his first appearance of 2012 -- at right corner-back - having overcome the latest bout of hamstring trouble that has blighted his career in recent seasons.

The Kilmacud Crokes ace recovered from a similar ailment in the middle of last summer and duly caught flight after being parachuted straight back into the team for Dublin's All-Ireland quarter-final against Tyrone.

His Crokes clubmate, Nolan, also returns in the left half-back berth from where he earned All Star recognition last autumn.

Nolan has only had a peripheral on-field involvement in the current campaign, coming off the bench for the last 20 minutes against Kerry and then making an injury-time appearance in Newry last Sunday.

The third defensive change sees Philly McMahon recalled in the left corner. McMahon lost his place for the Down game but was introduced at half-time; to facilitate his return, Johnny Cooper moves to wing-back after making his full debut in the corner five days ago.

The three backs losing out this week are Darren Daly, James McCarthy and Craig Dias.

It's unclear whether the switches have been prompted by the Down performance, injury considerations or a desire to get the likes of O'Sullivan and Nolan some valuable game-time ... Dublin's traditional Friday morning press conference was postponed this week because of work commitments.

Gilroy has kept faith with his recent midfield pairing, Michael Darragh Macauley and Eamon Fennell. Meanwhile, in the continuing injury-enforced absence of Eoghan O'Gara, there is just one alteration up front -- Tomás Quinn is recalled after being held in reserve last weekend. '

Reverts

'Mossy' indirectly replaces Paul Brogan, having coming on for the same player after 58 minutes against Down.

There is still one Brogan in attack -- 2011 Footballer of the Year Alan reverts to the '40' from corner-forward -- but his brother Bernard has admitted he still faces a few more weeks on the sidelines after undergoing keyhole knee surgery seven days ago.

"I had the job done in the Santry Sports Clinic last Friday and, so far, everything feels fine," Brogan has revealed.

"I did a bit on the bike on Wednesday night and I'm hoping to get back into the pool in a day or so, so I'm hoping to pick things up from here.

"I certainly haven't given up hope of getting back with them in the league -- but we'll probably have to get to the semi-finals or final for that to happen," admitted the 2010 Footballer of the Year.

On that basis, as well as tomorrow's All-Ireland semi-final rematch with Donegal, Brogan is set to miss the upcoming trips to Mayo (March 31, McHale Park Castlebar) and Cork (April 8, Páirc Uí Chaoimh).

DUBLIN (SF v Donegal): S Cluxton; C O'Sullivan, R O'Carroll, P McMahon; J Cooper, G Brennan, K Nolan; MD Macauley, E Fennell; P Flynn, A Brogan, B Cullen; T Quinn, D Connolly, K McManamon.

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