Sunday 21 April 2019

Pat's big hope for smaller ball

Dublin manager Pat Gilroy. Pic: Sportsfile
Dublin manager Pat Gilroy. Pic: Sportsfile

Seán Boylan was seen as a hurling man. He took over the Meath footballers. They haven't seen a Royal Wedding since.

Pat Gilroy won Sam with the Dubs. As a player and manager.

When the blue smoke eventually rose above Parnell Park, Pat's appointment was the talk of the country. Packaged with intrigue. And surprise.

A football man getting the big small ball job.

But many of the same principles apply. The capital's Dawn Patrol is back.

The 6.0am training sessions on the Alfie Byrne Road that turned startled earwigs into All-Ireland champions.

Pat's arrival has helped to spark good vibrations. Many leading hurlers have returned.

They include Johnny McCaffrey. Johnny was captain on two of the most emotive Dublin hurling days in the city.

The memorable Leinster U21 final win in Parnell Park back in 2007, Dublin's first since 1972. And the Leinster Senior Championship victory of 2013, their first Leinster title since 1961 .

And in one of the most poignant pictures of all, Jimmy Gray, who played in '61, presented Johnny with the Bob O'Keeffe Cup in the Hogan Stand.

Jimmy was a fine goalkeeper. Now he's the President of the Dublin GAA. When county chairman, Seán Shanley, announced his presence at this week's annual convention in Parnell Park, the delegates burst into applause.

Johnny will have Lucan colleagues in the Dubs Stars defence, Barry Aird and Chris Crummey.

There will be plenty of pace and nimble wrist work in the Dubs Stars attack, with hurlers like Alan Moore, Fergal Whitely, Paul Winters and Alex Quinn.

Two of the best goalkeepers in Ireland will be manning the Marino gate-posts - Gary Maguire for the Dubs Stars and Alan Nolan for Dublin.

Alan has a puck out that could travel from the Malahide Road to Fenway Park. He has solid sentries in front of him - Darren Kelly, Tom Connolly and Shane Barrett.

And making sure to keep the cash register ringing will be Donal Burke, John Hetherton and Fionn Ó Riain Broin.

Over in Boston, the new Dublin manager talked about having fellas with the right attitude. Showing up for rehearsals at 6.0am on December mornings is the proof of the Christmas pudding.

And now the show begins today. In a place Pat knows well. Just like his father, Jackie, before him. A man who also wore the Dublin football shirt.

One thing is for sure, Pat won't need the Sat Nav to get to Páirc Naomh Uinsionn.

Dublin panel: Alan Nolan, Darren Kelly, Paddy Smyth, Cian Hendriken, Tom Connolly, Bill O'Carroll, Shane Barrett, Ronan Smyth, Cillian Costello, Paul Crummey, Robbie Mahon, Donal Burke, F Ó Riain Broin, John Hetherton, Paul Kelly, Emmet McKenna, Stephen O'Connor, Eoghan Smyth, Ryan Curley, Seán Ó Riain, Daire Gray, Eoghan Dunne, Kevin Fitzgerald, Ciaran Dowling, Matthew McCaffrey.

Dubs Stars: Gary Maguire, Niall Corcoran, Kevin Hetherton, Barry Aird, John McCaffrey, Chris Crummey, Peter Feeney, Gavin King, Paul O'Dea, Paul Winters, Fergal Whitely, Alan Moore, John Walsh, Conor Burke, Alex Quinn, Ger O'Meara, Davy Keogh, Keith Connolly, Cian McBride, Cathal Doyle.

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