independent

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Gavin starts reign with forward blues

DUBLIN may have launched their new jersey, but finding top quality forwards to fill them in 2013 will take some time, as Alan Brogan and Eoghan O'Gara face surgery on groin and hip problems respectively.

New manager Jim Gavin has spent the last 60 days since his first media appearance beavering away in the background and laying the foundations and parameters for his reign.

Unfortunately, two players who would love to get involved from next Saturday when the Dubs return to collective training are sidelined.

Brogan and O'Gara are scheduled for operations before Christmas and will then have a lengthy rehab, missing the O'Byrne Cup and, in O'Gara's case, probably most of the league campaign.

Both players have played through their injury issues in the last couple of seasons, but now they hope surgery will provide a solution.

"I'm undergoing hip surgery, so I'll be back around March-April and focusing on the championship and the summer then," said O'Gara.

"It's been there for a couple of seasons, so I've a chance to finally sort it out, as opposed to temporary treatments on it."

Brogan was not at yesterday's conference, but manager Gavin expects him back in the spring.

The absence of the important pair, plus the retirement of Tomas 'Mossie' Quinn and the move to Australian Rules by Ciaran Kilkenny, lessens the options up front for Gavin when he sends the Dubs into O'Byrne Cup action next month.

However, his panel will remain fluid for some time. Ballymun Kickhams players won't link up with Dublin until their club campaign is finished, while student members of the panel will play Sigerson Cup with their colleges.

U-21 players will be allowed focus on their commitments to Dessie Farrell's side with the full blessing of Gavin.

This group includes young minor dual star Cormac Costello, who will focus on football once his under-age commitments are concluded.

Costello would have been snapped up by Dublin hurling boss Anthony Daly, but Gavin said the player has committed solely to the footballers for the coming season.

The manager has held some trial matches and spoken with a large group of players and said he can't wait to get going with the Dubs.

Predictably, he's not a fan of the collective training ban, but accepts the need for players to get a break.

"I'm acutely aware of the benefits of managing their fatigue and letting them have some off-time, letting them get some work-sport-life balance," said Gavin.

"I understand where the GAA have come from, but if I had my way, we wouldn't have a collective restriction on training.

"Each player needs an individual programme and some players need time off. And some players need to work in the off-season as well."

Negotiate

Meanwhile, Dublin chairman Andy Kettle said county officials are still trying to plan and negotiate a 'Spring Series' for the league.

An obvious potential double-header for Croke Park would be Dublin v Cork and Kildare v Donegal on Saturday February 2, but that would depend on Kildare agreeing to move their home game scheduled for the Sunday to Headquarters the previous night.

In turn, Kildare await a decision from the GAA on whether they can play 2013 league matches at Newbridge, as the St Conleth's Park capacity has been reduced for health and safety reasons.

The longer the delay, the more difficult it is to organise ticket packages and publicity for what has proven a popular feature of the league.

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