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Byrne strikes late to down Dublin

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DCU'S Gary Kelly and David Byrne (left).  Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

DCU'S Gary Kelly and David Byrne (left). Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Dejected Dublin players Jason Whelan (left) and Darren Daly. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

Dejected Dublin players Jason Whelan (left) and Darren Daly. Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

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DCU'S Gary Kelly and David Byrne (left). Picture: Paul Mohan / SPORTSFILE

SO Dublin's competitive pre-season is over and what have we learned?

First up, they are not – contrary to a rotund body of recent evidence – incapable of losing.

That little hypothesis was exploded by DCU yesterday in dank and dreary Parnell Park, where Niall Moyna's men stormed the dazed Dubs in a compelling final gallop, 3-8 to 0-16 winners and hence, O'Byrne Cup Group D winners, as Jim Gavin's men checked out early from the only competition they didn't win last year.

 

CONCEDED

Worse. They blew a six-point lead, had a crucial man (Paul Flynn) sent off and so barring a successful appeal, suspended for the first match of the league, whilst also conceding three goals to a DCU side not quite so spectacularly endowed with stardom as some of their most recent incarnations.

"It's always disappointing to lose a game. But in terms of our work ethic, it was excellent," said Jim Gavin, whose media persona in defeat is indistinguishable from victory.It's been so long since Dublin lost, it's hard to recall.

"Coming down the stretch ... they got a final burst on us and deservedly won out in the end. It's just part of the process. It's a pre-season tournament. They're on a different cycle to what we're at. But they deserved to win in the end."

That they did.

Driven incessantly and craftily by Ballymun Kickhams man, Davy Byrne, DCU were worth every penny of their win.

But with such an alien Dublin line-up, individual displays of class and courage are always likely to be appreciated more by Gavin.

And on yesterday's viewing, Seán George, for one, is senior inter-county material.

Strong, confident, aggressive and exactly the sort of inside defender Dublin spent years attempting to unearth/manufacture prior to Rory O'Carroll's arrival.

The Ballymun man kept Conor McHugh – in fine fettle against both Louth and Westmeath – scoreless from play and moved easily into full-back when O'Carroll became the only recipient of a black card during the match with 10 minutes to play.

Similarly, Eric Lowndes probably now falls into the 'probables' pile after a performance in which almost every one of his many, many direct involvements ended in a positive outcome.

And – of probably no great shock to anyone – Cormac Costello is a live contender for League action, having kicked four points from play (five in total) in what was his first complete 70 minutes for Dublin in competitive fare, displaying lovely flashes of his innate pace, balance and finishing.

 

DIFFICULT

"Both Cormac and Paul (Hudson, who chipped in with another five-point haul on the day) did well today in difficult conditions," reckoned Gavin. "Good to see them tipping over a few scores from play and in that respect, we're very happy with both of their progress."

And then there's Davy Byrne who, of course, will be available to Dublin should they so choose once DCU's involvement in the O'Byrne Cup ends.

Lining out at centre-back, he still managed to score 1-2, including the winning point and a flukey, if wholly valuable second half goal, which owed more to Donal Wrynn's dunt on Dublin 'keeper Seán Currie than it did to Byrne's delivery.

"In fairness to Davy, look at the point he put over the bar to win the game," gushed DCU trainer, Mick Bohan, ordinarily a member of Gavin's backroom team himself.

"He's a warrior, He's a guy you certainly want in the arena ... it would be great to see Davy possibly involved with Dublin again this year."

 

DRAGGED

The goal also dragged Dublin back into a scrap they appeared to be winning easily on points anyway and when Galway man, Gary Kelly was sprung and kicked three points (two frees) to narrow further, it was left to another Dub – St Sylvester's Mícheal McCarthy to land the most jarring blow of the day, a 64th minute goal, prior to Byrne's brilliant winner.

"We gave a lot of guys opportunities in the last three games, which is what it's about," reflected Gavin of the past three games.

"It's a pre-season tournament. It was a good physical work out as well. So to that end, all our objectives were achieved."


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