WICKLOW scored their only win in the O'Byrne Cup when he got the measure of the Dubs at their own Parnell Park in the final match on Sunday.
WICKLOW 1-11 DUBLIN 0-10
Harry Murphy, Gavin and Mick made no secret of their plans for this competition from the start. They were using the first two matches to experiment and look at as many as possible of the newcomers to their panel.
Then in the final match they would put out their best available side and hope to get a good result to kick off their league campaign.
Most people leaving Parnell Park on Sunday evening agreed that the plan had worked a dream. All right there was no silverware at the end of this rainbow but spirits were high in the camp. Players and supporters had a new pep in their step and were only stopping short saying - Bring on Fermanagh. Harry however was not getting carried away. 'That was an experimental Dublin team and we will come up against stronger opposition in Division 3 of the league', he said after the game.
While that goes without saying it was good to see what was still an under-strength Wicklow team come back from a poor start to dominate this game for long spells and take everything the Dubs could throw at them in the closing stages.
The Dubs got off to a flying start with three points in three minutes. It took Wicklow a long time to settle but once Paul Earls got them on the score board in the sixth minute they quickly found their feet and became very competitive.
Austin O'Malley was laying down a marker and after setting up Earls for that first point and won and pointed a free himself.
O'Malley had only started after Mathew Byrne had to cry off but it was clear that the Mayo man intended to make the most of his chances.
The Wicklow defence had tightened up after a poor start with Damien Power adding greatly to the strength of the full back line.
However the Dubs had found another route to goal with their corner forward from Thomas Davis, Paul Hudson, deadly from frees.
He put three between the posts to restore their lead but James Stafford and Anthony McLoughlin were getting on top at midfield and Rory Finn was playing a powerful roving game to create scoring chances.
Paddy Dalton was also going like an eighteen-year-old and covering acres of ground. McLoughlin had a great point following good work by Stafford and McCrea; O'Malley had an excellent point from play before the roving McCrea sent over a long range point to bring the sides level for the first time.
That was in the 28th minute and one minute later Wicklow were in for the decisive score of the match.
O'Malley got through on the right wing but Dublin goalie Vincent Whelan brought off a great save. As so often happens Earls was lurking on the edge of the square to apply the finish. Earls, O'Malley and Dean Healy added points and Wicklow went in leading by 1-9 to 0-6 at half time.
It came as no surprise when Jim Gavin beefed up his team in preparation for a second half come back.
They got some assistance along the way when Wicklow were reduced to 14 men when Paul Cunningham was sidelined on a second yellow. The Dubs used their spare man in defence which cut down on Wicklow's scoring chances.
Dublin now had big guns like Connolly, Andrews, McMenamin and McCarthy in attack and were pounding the Wicklow posts.
However there was no way through this new look Wicklow defence, marshalled superbly by Patrick McWalter.
James Kelly and Alan Byrne may not have been staring but they were doing their job well.
Young Paul McLoughlin was showing maturity way beyond his years while the experience of Power was proving invaluable.
As well as being a great goal keeper John Flynn is a good organiser of a defence. Rory Finn was dropping back and doing great work.
Of course it was of great assistance that Stafford and Anthony McLoughlin were controlling midfield and taking a lot of the pressure off the defence.
Dean Healy, who up to this year played all his football as a defender was also helping out. Darragh O'Sullivan had come on in attack and was running hard at the Dublin defence
It took Connolly almost 15 minutes to get through for Dublin's first point; and when O'Mahony and Hudson added points it appeared that the Dubs was on the way back. Anthony McLoughlin lifted the siege with a point but when Andrews cut the deficit to a goal the Dublin supporters sensed that they could still save the match.
Then McLoughlin sent Rory Finn flying through the centre to send over a great long range point and it was all over.
If you are one of the people that believe that the result did not matter to the Dubs than you should have looked into the faces of supporters, as I did, as they left the stand and you would have got your answer.
Harry was still short of players like Ciaran Hyland, Mick McLoughlin, Stephen Kelly, Stephen Byrne Lieghton Glynn and Seanie Furlong not to mention Mathew Byrne, all injures or ill.
Also missing were players like John McGrath, Darren Hayden, Robert Lambert and Conor McGraynor, claimed by college teams.
Scorers - Wicklow - Paul Earls 1-2; Austin O'Malley 0-4; Anthony McLoughlin 0-2; Rory Finn, Brendan McCrea and Dean Healy 0-1 each.
Dublin - Paul Hudson 0-4; Declan O'Mahony 0-2; Diarmuid Connolly, Paddy Andrews, Gary Sweeney and Robbie McCarthy 0-1 each.
Vincent Whelan; Darragh Nelson; Tomas Brady, David Byrne; Eric Lownes, Chris Guckian, Gerry Seaver; Declan O'Mahony, Cian Mullins; Emmet O'Conghailes, Kevin McMenamin, Tiernan Diamond; Paul Hudson, Robbie McCarthy, Gary Sweeney. SUBS USED - Ger Brennan, Diarmuid Connolly, Paddy Andrews, Jack McCaffrey, Shane Carty.
John Flynn; Damien Power, James Kelly, Alan Byrne; Paul Cunningham, Patrick McWalter, Paul McLoughlin; Anthony McLoughlin, James Stafford; Dean Healy, Rory Finn, Paddy Dalton; Brendan McCrea, Paul Earls and Austin O'Malley. SUBS - Darragh O'Sullivan for Dalton; Daniel Woods for McCrea; Luke Benson for Healy; James Sheerin for Earls.
VENUE: Parnell Park
REFEREE: Paul Neill (Louth)