Dubs boss is taking nothing for granted
As Dublin prepare to face Offaly in their O'Byrne Cup opener this Wednesday in Parnell Park (8pm), they know they will probably be installed as favourites even if they put out a third-string outfit.
With Paul Clarke again at the helm, Dublin's resources mean that they should make it through to the decider without too much trouble. Nonetheless, the former St Margarets boss is not taking anything for granted on the night, especially after Offaly's impressive 3-16 to 0-9 opening-round victory against Offaly at the weekend.
'Offaly will have the nice advantage of having played a game at the weekend, so they will be at the pace of it and it will be a very tough game,' he said.
The Metropolitans will be chasing their fifth success of the decade, although remarkably between 1966 and 2007 they only won the competition three times.
This competition will again offer the chance for one or two of the upcoming stars to make a name for themselves. Niall Scully was undoubtedly the breakthrough player from last year, although it did the reputation of O'Byrne Cup-winning captain Ciaran Reddin no harm either.
The St Maur's man was one of three Fingal players to start in Dublin's nine-point win over Louth in the 2017 decider, with Jack Smith (Skerries Harps) and Ross Hazley (St Sylvester's) also making the starting fifteen, while Hazley's teammate Gary Sweeney came off the bench in the second half.
However, with Reddin on holidays and Hazley and Smith both out injured, Dublin go into the Offaly clash with a new set of faces as they aim to make it back-to-back wins in the competition for the first time since 2008.
And Clarke believes that Dublin are further ahead in their preparations compared to this time last year.
'This time last year we hadn't done any work at all. It was New Year's Day or New Year's Eve when we had the Blue Stars game.
'It's really a fresh group of players. I think we only have three or four from last year's squad who are with us this year. Brian Howard played a bit of football with us last year and Colm Basquel as well, so it's nice to have them back with us, but it's great at the same time to have those fresh faces.'
One of those likely to feature is Adam Rogers who scored four points in the Dubs Stars Challenge last Saturday week and Clarke has certainly liked what he has seen so far of the Clann Mhuire forward.
'You are ploughing a tough furrow with a club that are finding it hard to stay in a certain league, so he would have been a key player for them. He is showing really well in training - his attitude has been great. We are giving him the opportunity and it's up to him and the rest of the players to take that opportunity.'
Following on from Wednesday's clash, Dublin then face Wexford on Sunday at St Patrick's Park in Enniscorthy (2pm).