Dublin manager Jim Gavin anticipates as much trial as error ahead of Louth clash

All-Ireland champions must plan for season without selector Michael Kennedy and long-serving statistician Ray Boyne

Westmeath’s Gavin Hoey under pressure from Dublin’s Declan O’Mahony and Kevin Nolan during last Sunday’s O’Byrne Cup match at Cusack Park, Mullingar, Co Westmeath. Photograph: Inpho

Westmeath’s Gavin Hoey under pressure from Dublin’s Declan O’Mahony and Kevin Nolan during last Sunday’s O’Byrne Cup match at Cusack Park, Mullingar, Co Westmeath. Photograph: Inpho

Wed, Jan 8, 2014, 00:00


Such is the sudden onslaught of fixtures this month that Dublin football manager Jim Gavin is anticipating as much trial as error, and he’s not alone.

This evening’s second round of the O’Byrne Cup (Parnell Park, 7.45pm) comes against a Louth team in perfectly similar mode.

While Dublin – starting with just two members of their All-Ireland winning team – edged past Westmeath by a single point last Sunday, Louth fell heavily to the students of DCU, the nine-point defeat leaving manager Aidan O’Rourke in need of at least something this evening to keep alive the chances of making the semi-finals.

“Well I think Louth are one of the sides that the week after the All-Ireland final might have drawn up their training panel,” said Gavin, “and have been back training many weeks. We’re only back collectively now after eight days, and (against Westmeath) we saw a lot of technical errors in handling and kick-passing, shooting, etc, but that’s to be expected.”

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Gavin had named both Bryan Cullen and Kevin McManamon to start against Westmeath, but withdrew them prior to throw-in due to the effects of flu, while Kevin Nolan and Michael Fitzsimons – both back in the fray after missing last year – are likely to get another run.

What is now certain is that Gavin has lost two of his backroom members for 2013: selector Michael Kennedy, who is also director of DCU’s GAA academy, has opted out for work reasons, and likewise long-serving Dublin statistician Ray Boyne, who has also informed Gavin that he’s unable to continue due to work commitments as Ulster Bank’s Head of Corporate Services.

Meanwhile several other counties have confirmed their captains for the current season.

The Galway footballers will be captained by midfielder Paul Conroy, who takes over the role from Finian Hanley. Conroy may prove a lucky choice as he captained the Galway minors to All-Ireland success six years ago, and also played an influential role in their 3-10 to 0-8 winning start against Sligo in the FDB League last Sunday. Galway are out again this Sunday against FBD champions Leitrim.

The Limerick hurlers, who get their new season under way this Sunday when facing Tralee IT in the Waterford Crystal Cup, will once again be captained by Donal O’Grady, with vice captaincy going to Paudie O’Brien. O’Grady was the choice of his namesake and new co-manager Donal O’Grady, who has come back to take charge this year along with former Limerick captain TJ Ryan.