Saturday 18 November 2017

Red Hands out to halt Dublin's remarkable run

Allianz League

Rory Kerr

Possessed with the strength of a bull, hurler turned footballer Tomàs Brady was probably destined to come under the radar of Jim Gavin at some stage.

The Na Fianna man eventually got the call-up in 2012 but in a competitive half forward sector and he never fully managed to nail down a starting place in Gavin's starting fifteen.

Gavin announced on Sunday after Dublin's seven-point win over Cavan that Brady was leaving the panel due to work and personal reasons before adding: 'Tomas has had a stellar career with us and when he reflects on the trophies and medals he has won he and his family will be very proud.'

Gavin's remarks will have raised a few eyebrows given that Brady made only a handful of appearances and perhaps struggled to make as smooth a transition to the bigger ball code as the likes of Shane Ryan, Conal Keaney or David Henry.

One should not be too hard on Brady given the sheer quality of squad Gavin had at his disposal on Sunday. Dublin's 30th successive win under Gavin means that it's getting harder and harder to break into a squad where no-one wants to lose their grip on that precious shirt.

And even then, former All-Star defender Rory O'Carroll is away in New Zealand.

Next Saturday sees Dublin take on Tyrone in the first of the spring series at Croke Park in a double header which sees Ger Cunnigham's hurlers take on All-Ireland champions Tipperary at five, before the main event which has 7pm throw in.

Tyrone were the only Division 1 side to win at home at the weekend, albeit against a Roscommon team that many people expect will struggle this season.

It will be Tyrone's first appearance at GAA headquarters since their quarter-final defeat to Mayo. Manager Mickey Harte will probably feel he has a point to prove after the Tyrone county board refused to grant an extension on his contact.

A win over Dublin, who haven't been beaten since March of 2015 would be a good start but it is easier said then done against a dogged Dublin team who have become masters of grinding out win after win.

Even without two thirds of their All-Ireland winning forward line, with both Diarmuid Connolly and Paul Flynn missing last Sunday, Dublin were not short on options, with rookie Niall Scully claiming the man of the match accolade for the second week running.

And with 2015 player of the year Jack McCaffrey making an effortless return to the fold despite missing all of last year due to work commitments, the possibilities for Dublin seem limitless.

Fingal Independent

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