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Saturday 1 November 2014

Gavin adds to backroom team ahead of Cork test

RORY KERR

Published 29/01/2013 | 12:22

The Portmarnock CS team bench get ready to celebrate their school's All-Ireland U-19C Basketball success over Mount Anville at the National Basketball Arena. Credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

WITH so many men around him you could mistake Jim Gavin for presidential material.

The addition of Martin Kennedy - former physical trainer to the Dublin hurlers under Anthony Daly - is the latest piece of the jigsaw as Dublin attempt to regain their All-Ireland crown. Kennedy joins an ever-growing back room staff that also includes former World boxing champion, Bernard Dunne. It was argued by some that the hurlers under Daly looked muscle bound, slow, sluggish and stuck to the ground in some of their games as a result of their training endeavours, but Gavin cannot be accused of leaving any stone un-turned as he prepares his charges for their opening National League fixture with Cork this Saturday in Croke Park at 7pm. The beginning of the Spring Series sees Dublin involved in a double header, their game coming after the Kildare v Donegal throw-in at 5pm. Kildare were Dublin's opponents in last Saturday's O'Byrne Cup final in Parnell Park with Tomas O'Connor's extra-time goal at Dublin County Board headquarters seeing the Lillywhites prevailing by two points. Gavin has used the campaign to blood new talent with 2012 minors Shane Carthy and Cormac Costello both coming off the bench to register scores. With Bryan Cullen away on honeymoon and Paul Flynn tied up with DCU, Gavin's open door policy has allowed Dublin followers to cast their eyes on new talent like Paul Hudson and Paul Mannion while Fingal Ravens man, Darren Daly, will be hoping to finally break into this year's championship team. Of the Fingal players that have featured so far, Daly has managed to cement a place in Gavin's starting fifteen although Gary Sweeney of St Sylvester's is another who is much admired by many, including Gavin. It is 40 years since the late great Kevin Heffernan took over the Dublin job although the expectation on Gavin's shoulders is slightly greater. With a raft of minors coming through and 2012 dual players, Cormac Costello and Ciaran Kilkenny both opting out of hurling to concentrate on football (Tomas Brady has also switched codes), Dublin will be expected to match the Tyrone model of the noughties by surpassing their minor and under-21 success in 2013. Competion in the forward line will be tough and Paul Flynn, the two Brogans, Bryan Cullen and Diarmuid Connolly will be hard to dislodge. Admittedly Connolly has blown hot and cold but has shown some very impressive touches in the full forward line in the O'Byrne Cup campaign. Saturday's game (Republic of Loose provide the entertainment in between) is the first of five games to be held at Croke Park. After the Cork game, Dublin travel down to Kerry the following Saturday before returning to action against All-Ireland finalists Mayo on March 2nd. They then face off against three teams in a 22-day period with Kildare up first on March 10th. They then share the billing with the Dublin hurlers (who face Limerick) when they take on Tyrone on March 16th before finishing off the Spring Series at home to Down the following Saturday. Five-Match packages for the games are as follows: Stand: Adult €50, Juvenile €15; Hill 16: Adult €50 - no concessions for juveniles; Wheelchair: €50. Single game tickets: Stand: Adult €13, Juvenile €5; Hill 16: Adult €13 - no concessions for Juveniles Wheelchair: €13. Tickets are available from all usual outlets, incliuding Dublin GAA clubs, via www.gaa.ie, selected Supervalu and Centra stores and the GAA Ticket Office on Dorset St.

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