FORGET the New Year’s first-born baby – Dublin’s latest signing, Ryan O’Dwyer, was setting his own records in Russell Park on Saturday afternoon. The game was merely seconds old when the Tipp recruit flashed the sliotar over the bar at the ball alley end.
Ryan was wearing a red helmet. It had danger written all over it. “Ryan’s a hardy boy,” noted Dublin manager, Anthony Daly. “You can’t buy the kind of qualities he brings to the occasion. “He won’t be found wanting. He’s a good one alright. I saw a lot of him when he was a young lad, coming up through the grades at minor and under-21 level.”
The day didn’t end as brightly for another Ryan – Shane. His tour of duty was almost over before it had begun. “Shane was doing a bit of wall ball stuff and he got a twinge. And when he sprinted early on, he felt it,” explained the boss man.
“We picked up a few injuries. Unbelievable on our first day out, but I suppose that proves it was a full-blooded game.” The ideal starting point to begin climbing the floors to championship pace. On January’s first day it was a decent enough spectacle.
And a very healthy crowd arrived at St Brigid’s to exchange New Year greetings. The climate was kind. The media watched the action from the roof of the pavilion. The Dublin manager could also see the big picture. And that means putting last July’s championship defeat against Antrim as far under the stairs. “We are in 2011 now, so we’ll try and put that to bed. We have to put it behind us. We have to learn from it, meaning that if a similar situation arises again, we’d make sure to handle it much better.
“It was a harsh lesson, a bitter pill to swallow, but a day like that could stand us in good stead in the future. “That’s provided we learn from it, and steel ourselves accordingly. It’s only then that we can use that defeat to our advantage.” Dalo’s Blues never looked like losing this one. They led by 10 points in the 20th minute, and they were nine points ahead midway through the second period. But the Dubs Stars then began to rattle and hum.
Niall McMorrow scored Dublin’s two goals. All the goals came from Ballyboden personnel – Conor Mc- Cormack and Shane Durkin netting for the Dubs Stars. McMorrow, who helped Dublin to the Leinster U-21 title last season, impressed Daly with his turn of pace and accuracy.
“Niall is a top of the ground man. He’s hard to mark,” judged the Clare champion. “He has a nice bit of work done in the gym and that, and he was involved late in the year with ’Boden, so that’s another plus. “We rate Niall as a serious prospect. Hopefully this display will be a big boost to his confidence going forward.
“I felt a lot of the lads did well out there, Declan O’Dwyer for instance. This time last year Declan wasn’t on the panel, so hopefully our strength in depth will keep on growing.” The Walsh Cup will give the Dublin management the chance to try more fresh options before the lights of Croke Park begin to twinkle for the National League.
Yet, in some ways, Daly will miss the cosy confines of Parnell Park for the Tipp and Kilkenny ties. “We might be harder to beat in Parnell,” he confesses. “But, hey, we’ll all look forward to Croke Park under lights, although I’m sure Tipperary and Kilkenny will look forward to it as well.
“Yet it’s a great experience for us. We have to look at the bigger picture. “As a player, isn’t it fantastic to be looking forward to playing in Croke Park under lights against the top two teams in the country early in the year.
“You couldn’t buy something like that. It’s a great opportunity for the lads and it will create a buzz in the camp.” There was no need to sugar Dublin’s tea at half-time against the Dubs Stars as they led by 1-12 to 1-5, and were worth every cent of it. McMorrow, proving how the sliotar can or can’t run for you, was an early replacement for Shane Ryan, who had popped over Dublin’s second point.
McMorrow was to shake the net in the 15th minute following Johnny McCaffrey’s long-range free. McCormack responded with a goal for the Dubs Stars in the 22nd minute after Paul Ryan was involved. The hard-running McCormack and Paul Ryan had busy hours.
McMorrow got a jewel of a point before the interval as did the inventive and jet-heeled Daire Plunkett of the Dubs Stars, pleasing the locals in the audience. Top-scorer on the day, McMorrow, pounced for his second goal in the 48th minute, cutting in from the left and arrowing a drive to the far corner – 2-16 to 1-10. Durkin arrived like the Firhouse
Express to produce the second Dubs Stars goal and enhance their revival effort in the 55th minute. Respectability on the score-board, and a lot out there on the pitch too. Different jerseys, but all Sat Navs pointed in the same direction.