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Monday 20 November 2017

Gilroy: Medals mean nothing

PAT GILROY'S post-match address after beating UCD last Saturday night contained two key pieces of information.

Firstly, his team will make a sustained effort to mount a credible and consistent league campaign, just as they did in 2010 and '11.

Secondly, a third of those who started the All-Ireland SFC final will not be available for their opening clash with Kerry on Saturday, February 4.

Ever since his squad re-convened after the epic celebrations of autumn and winter, Gilroy has been at pains to point out that there are "no sacred cows" in the Dublin team and that past glories or reputations are unlikely to sustain a place in his team.

Against that backdrop, Sunday's potentially tasty clash with a similarly and unseasonably in-form Kildare gives an opportunity for a host of players to state their claims for a spot in Dublin's starting XV for the return of Kerry, positions which, given the manager's form, are unlikely to be merely vanquished upon the return of more established names.

He we weigh up the options at Gilroy's disposal.

OUT: Kevin Nolan

POSSIBLES

Darren Daly: Appeared as a replacement for Bryan Cullen in last year's league final before being taken off in the same game but much more comfortable back in defence.

More likely to play corner-back but may benefit from a switch involving Cian O'Sullivan moving out to the half-back line although Philly McMahon remains ahead in the pecking order if such a switch transpires.

Declan Lally: Recalled to the squad last year but still to hatch a regular spot. Was going well in league until a hamstring injury struck. Started in attack against Carlow first day out.The uncertainty over his club transfer situation may not aid his Dublin cause.

WILDCARDS

Davy Byrne: Noted for his great leap when manning midfield for the 'Mun, Byrne has been trialled at wing-back and was tidy and assured in both of Dublin's O'Byrne Cup matches thus far in 2012.

John Small: Says plenty of his potential that Small was the only member of Dublin's much-vaunted minor team from last year to receive a call up to senior.

He is unlikely to be given an immediate opportunity, however.

Nicky Devereux: Pace to burn but won't get a chance to shine in a Dublin shirt until after the O'Byrne Cup given the Ballinteer flyer lined out for DIT in their opening-round loss to Kildare.

OUT: Denis Bastick

Possibles

Ross McConnell: Looking leaner and fitter and more likely to last the distance, McConnell will definitely benefit from a consistent run of starts. Handling and ball skills should sharpen as heavy training eases up.

Eamon Fennell: Played through an injury last weekend but, according to Gilroy, should be back at optimum fitness for the league.

Wildcard

Colm Murphy: Slimmed down from last year and more than held his own against the other two last week in lining out for UCD.

OUT: Barry Cahill

Possibles

Kevin McManamon: A certainty to start against Kerry, surely.

Back with a vengeance last week, defences simply find his hussle too vibrant to contain and as Kerry themselves found out last September, most effective bursting onto the ball from deep.

Paul Brogan: Started both O'Byrne Cup matches thus far at wing-forward and has plenty of pace and strength. If he can locate the end product, could be a very viable option in attack.

Wildcard

Seán Murray: Not as outlandish a prospect as it might seem.

Already, St Brigid's quiet man has played full-back, centre-back and midfield for Dublin and last week in Parnell Park -- albeit with UCD badly flagging -- he was introduced for Bryan Cullen, made a goal and scored one himself.

OUT: Alan Brogan

Possible

Paddy Andrews: Ticks almost every box for the Alan Brogan link-man role. A strong ball winner with intelligent distribution skills and a decent conversion rate. Andrews' performances for Brigid's in the Leinster club championship forced his recall.

Wildcard:

Gary Sweeney: Yet to be called for Dublin duty but can't be too far away.

Another of DCU's Dublin contingent, his pace, balance and poise make the St Sylvester's man a potent prospect, one tailor-made for an impact role in Croke Park.

OUT: Bernard Brogan

Possibles

Tomás Quinn: His customary classiness has been amplified somewhat since the turn of the year. A game-changing cameo against Carlow and a first-half effort laced with class last Saturday bore all the signs of a man who means business, determined to reclaim a more regular place in Gilroy's attacking alignment.

Eoghan O'Gara: A firm Gilroy favourite, O'Gara's strength, pace and unpredictability make him a constant if enigmatic threat.

Currently cup-tied with DCU, he won't have a competitive opportunity with Dublin to lodge a claim for a start against Kerry but given the importance manager puts on internal 'A' versus 'B' matches, his claims will be fully heard between now and February 4.

Wildcard:

Míceál McCarthy: Probably now deserving of a billing a little higher than 'wildcard' but still much less established than the other two hopefuls for Bernard's jersey.

Has scored nine points (two frees) over Dublin's two games so far and fits the target man role Gilroy likes but has yet to convincingly fill.

Very accurate off both feet and a consistent ball-winner.

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