FOUR of the players who made such a big contribution to Dublin's All-Ireland win last year did their best to give former manager Pat Gilroy a memorable send-off at Gaelic Park, but not even their combined scoring haul of 7-5 was enough to swing a 16-goal exhibition game for the 2011 All Stars.
Michael Darragh Macauley (3-1), Bernard Brogan (2-1), Kevin McManamon (1-2) and Rory O'Carroll (1-0) were all in productive form in a 13-a-side game on a crisp American night, but their rivals were even sharper with a tally of 8-17.
That included a goal from CJ Molloy, one of four New York players who were drafted in to deputise for All Stars, who were unable to play due to various injuries.
Molloy, who looked very comfortable in such august company, is a nephew of former Donegal All-Ireland winning captain Anthony Molloy.
Macauley won the Man of the Match award for his hat-trick exploits while he also turned in an energetic performance in general play.
With only 24 outfield players on the pitch at any one time, it led to a very open contest, played at a high pace on the artificial surface. However, as can be gleaned from the high-scoring, it was very much a night for attackers.
Indeed, Jim McGuinness, who was in charge of the 2012 team, wouldn't have recognised any aspect of his famous defensive system as players poured forward into scoring channels, leaving goalkeepers Paul Durcan and Brendan Kealy under consistent pressure.
Both did well while the woodwork was rattled on no fewer than six occasions, three in the space of 90 seconds in the first half. The 2012 team led by a point (1-11 to 3-4) at half-time but were utterly rampant in the second half, running up a further 7-6.
They led by 8-17 to 6-7 late on before Alan Dillon and Macauley countered with two late goals. Donncha O'Connor (2-2), Cillian O'Connor (1-4), Colm O'Neill (1-2) were top marksmen for the 2012 side, which was made up mainly of Donegal and Mayo players.
While it was all very much exhibition mode, memories of the past season were never very far away, certainly not for Bernard Brogan as he reflected on how Dublin had their grip on the All-Ireland title prised away by Mayo in the All-Ireland semi-final.
He still has nasty memories of the goal opportunity he failed to take at a crucial stage of the semi-final, at a time when Dublin's desperate recovery bid was at full tide.
"It still haunts me but that's part of the game. I've had some great days in the past, days when the goals went in for me but you'll always miss a few as well. You live and learn from things like that. I went to put it into the bottom corner and the ball lifted a bit. David Clarke is like Peter Schmeichel coming out.
"He spread himself like an eagle and got his hand to the ball," said Brogan.
He had a good opportunity to assess the Donegal players on Saturday, albeit in largely uncompetitive circumstances, and has no doubt that they are setting new standards.
"You could see in 2011 that they were making real progress and they took it on again this year, They are now the team to beat – there's no doubt about that."
Saturday's game was Brogan's last under Gilroy and, like all his colleagues, he now faces the challenge of adapting to a new manager next year. He knows little about Jim Gavin on a personal basis, but knows that he comes with a reputation as an excellent player and a successful Dublin U-21 manager.
"I'm looking forward to seeing what he thinks about football – the style he plays and so on. I know the U-21s played some lovely free-flowing football. We're looking forward to hearing from him and getting started. We weren't a million miles off it last year, so I'm sure there's shouldn't be too much that has to change," said Brogan.
He wasn't expecting Gilroy to step down after four years in charge but understands why the St Vincent's man made the decision.
"Pat is running a successful business and he has a young family. It's very time-consuming. We have the utmost respect for him – I wouldn't be the footballer I am today only for him," said Brogan.
He was one of many players who thrilled the largely Irish-American crowd at Gaelic Park, where major redevelopment work is planned. It's hoped to have it completed by 2014, New York's centenary year.
It's likely that the All Stars will return to the city to mark the special occasion in the lives of so many people who devote so much of their time to promoting Gaelic games.
Scorers – All Stars 2012: D O'Connor 2-2, C O'Connor 1-4, N Gallagher, C O'Neill 1-2 each, P Kerrigan 1-1, L Keegan 1-1, CJ Molloy 1-0, K Lacey 0-2, A Walsh, M Murphy, K McLoughlin ('45) 0-1 each. All Stars 2011: MD Macauley 3-1, B Brogan 2-1, K McManamon 1-2, A Dillon, R O'Carroll 1-0 each, B Brosnan 0-2, M Foley 0-1.
ALL STARS 2012 – P Durcan (Donegal); K Higgins (Mayo), E Cadogan (Cork); A Thompson (Donegal), K Lacey (Donegal), L Keegan (Mayo); A Walsh (Cork)), N Gallagher (Donegal); K McLoughlin (Mayo), D O'Connor (Cork), P Kerrigan (Cork); M Murphy (Donegal), C O'Neill (Cork). Interchange: CJ Molloy (New York), D Lehane (New York), C O'Connor (Mayo), N McGee (Donegal).
ALL STARS 2011 – B Kealy (Kerry); M O Se (Kerry), J McMahon (Tyrone); T O Se (Kerry), K Nolan (Dublin), K Cassidy (Donegal); MD Macauley (Dublin), M Foley (Kildare); B Brosnan (Wexford), B Brogan (Dublin), K McManamon (Dublin); D O'Dwyer (New York), R O'Carroll (Dublin). Interchange: C Horgan (New York), A Dillon (Mayo).
REF – M Deegan (Laois).