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Dublin do enough to outshine the Stars

TWELVE months can be a long time in a season of Sundays.

Last year in Kilbarrack, Shane Ryan captained the Evening Herald/Dublin Bus Dubs Stars footballers to victory.

Yesterday at Fingallians, he wore the number 11 shirt for the Dublin hurlers.

The end of the 2001 season was the last time he hurled for the Dubs (an NHL Division 1 relegation victory over Antrim in Parnell Park). Within seconds of the start, he was back in business.

Shane found himself in a yard of space shooting for the scoreboard end. The sliotar drifted just inches wide.

It will take time and selfless dedication for the putts to fall.

Dublin manager Anthony Daly acknowledged as much.

"Shane needs tons of hurling, but, hey, this is just the start of it."

It was a raw afternoon to begin the road back. He played at centre half- forward in the opening half of the Evening Herald/Dubin Bus annual joust.

In the second period, he moved in to the full-forward berth. He scored a tidy point and laid on a peach of a pass for the in-form and lively Kevin Flynn.

Flynn's shot missed the net by inches. Flynner didn't miss much else. He enjoyed a double top of a day and finished as the afternoon's top scorer with an impressive tally of 1-6.

Daly wore a top coat that wouldn't have looked out of place in the Arnott's sale.

It was a day for buttoning up warm. There was still plenty of snow in the Swords suburbs.

In the housing estate across from the Lawless Memorial Park, the surface would have tested the balance and footwork of Torvill and Dean.

The fixture saw the first day of the players having to wear the helmet with a full face guard.

Christy Cooney was among the audience. The sun shone. A decent enough crowd looked on from the bank.

The Dublin chief felt they got good value. "It was fairly full-blooded, and the fellas gave it their all," said Daly.

"That was good to see. After all, it's only the third of January. It's not that easy to be motivated at this time of the year. We put it to them that we were using the game as a kind of a trial, so I think that was the best way to get something out of it.

"Obviously, there's a lot of ring- rustiness there. We'll now look towards the Walsh Cup at the end of the month.

"We won't have our College lads for that, so it's good to see what kind of depth we have. It's useful to see who is sharp and who's not.

"We could be missing eight or so of our College lads for the Walsh Cup, but that gives other fellas a chance," added the Dublin maestro.

Daly's Dubs are not out in Walsh Cup action until January 31 when they face the winners of the first round clash of Carlow and NUI Galway.

"But the real stuff starts for us on Tuesday night at training," he said. "The hard slog begins now. We'll get in as much hurling as we can."

Daly went on to applaud the displays of Niall Corcoran and David Curtin from his side, while he also singled out Liam Rushe of the Dubs Stars.

Rushe hit three elegant points before the break. Yet it wasn't easy for the Dubs Stars attack to make much impression.


Dublin's defence wasn't giving out the last of the free wrapping paper. The National Roads Authority could have done with the grit of Oisín Gough, Stephen Hiney, Tim Sweeney and Tomás Brady who really guarded his square with style, power and serious tenacity.

Dublin could have won by more. They had 14 wides, six more than the Stars. Dublin had 2-8 to 0-7 in the bank at the interval. Curtin cracked in the first goal in the eight minute.

On the left, Peadar Carton nipped in to pick-pocket the Stars defence before setting up the Ballyboden man.

The second goal came from a Flynn free. John Kelly was also making an earnest contribution on the Dublin half-forward line.

The pace dipped following the tea. In the first pages of the second half, Ryan was unlucky with another strike before he let in Flynn and then popped over his own point.

The Stars tried to lift it. The Blue rearguard remained formidable. Kevin O'Loughlin's free sped to the net -- 2-14 to 1-10 with six minutes remaining on the clock but it was too little to late for his side.

The best goal of hurling's afternoon was yet to come. In the 58th minute, Maurice O'Brien turned like an ice skater and drilled a beauty to the net from some 30 metres.

Not bad for a player who usually occupies the right half-back berth. And on the first Sunday, the scribblers have placed it at number one on the goal of the season contender's chart.

It will take some shifting. A flash of Faughs lightning to embellish a winter's tale.