Jim GAVIN'S Dublin began 2015 in impressive fashion at Parnell's GAA Grounds yesterday afternoon, as a blistering second-half display helped them to record an emphatic victory in the annual Dublin Bus/Herald Dubs Stars Football challenge.
With St Vincent's attacker Gavin Burke in fine form, the Dubs Stars held a slender 0-8 to 1-4 interval advantage, but with the breeze at their disposal, the Leinster champions registered 0-10 without reply during the third-quarter.
After Diarmuid McLoughlin had found the net for the Dubs Stars in the 57th minute, the impressive Niall Collins added to an earlier Conor McHugh goal with a three-pointer of his own four minutes from the end, as Dublin eased towards a comprehensive triumph.
Collins, of St Pat's Donabate, was top-scorer for Dublin on the day with an outstanding personal haul of 1-4.
Na Fianna's Conor McHugh and Ballymun Kickhams' half-forward Davey Byrne were also prominent for the victors, while McLoughlin and Burke displayed plenty of quality in a Dubs Stars attack that was spearheaded by Sky Blues regular Kevin McManamon.
It proved to be a worthwhile exercise overall for the Metropolitans, and with their O'Byrne Cup campaign getting underway this Sunday in Parnell Park against NUI Maynooth (2.0), Gavin feels there were plenty of lessons to be derived from the contest.
"You do learn and there are players we have tracked in club championship, so it gives those players an opportunity to stake a place in the squad.
"It was challenging conditions in that wind, but 1-17 in the second half isn't a bad return," the Round Tower, Clondalkin clubman remarked.
"I thought in the first half, certainly, there was a very strong breeze and the Dubs Stars made good use of it and created a lot of chances.
"The scoreboard didn't reflect their dominance, but our guys tried to play the ball out and had some shots that went awry in the first half.
"But 1-17 in the second half, and (we had) good passing moves and excellent strikes, and for January 1 it was good to see."
Having been the stand-out performer in Dublin's successful U21 odyssey in 2014, Na Fianna's McHugh once again showcased his undoubted ability with a 1-2 salvo.
Gavin was pleased with his contribution on the day, and also reserved plenty of praise for the excellent Collins.
"Conor McHugh had an impressive game in the full-forward line with Niall Collins of St Pat's Donabate and it was great to see the form that Niall has.
"We'd know him from U21 anyway, but he had good form this year with the club and we have kept a close eye on him.
"Good to see him transfer that and he got 1-4 from play, which is an impressive return from any senior game."
The industrious Byrne had opened the scoring for Dublin with a fine second minute point off the outside of his right-boot, but despite coming up short from some promising attacks, the Dubs Stars subsequently added unanswered scores courtesy of Burke, McLoughlin and the reliable Gareth 'Nesty' Smith.
A tame first-quarter was brightened up by an excellent effort from the raiding Darren Daly on 13 minutes, only for the Dubs Stars to respond with a further three points on the trot by McManamon, Burke and the lively McLoughlin.
Swapped scores between Byrne and Burke ensured that the Stars remained four points in front, before McHugh brilliantly fired beyond the reach of Vincent's netminder Michael Savage to reduce Dublin's arrears to a minimum.
With Niall Scully pointing a free prior to a Tomás Brady effort, this lead remained intact for the start of the second period.
The ten wides accrued by the Stars would prove to be costly, though, and thanks to excellent returns from Shane Carthy (0-4), Collins (0-3), McHugh, Brian Fenton and Harry Dawson, Gavin's charges were firmly in the driving seat moving into the closing stages of the action.
A neat finish by St Jude''s McLoughlin did offer the Dubs Stars a lifeline late on, but with Collins' delicate 66th minute finish (via a McHugh penalty miss) coming hot on the heels of points from Byrne (0-2), Dawson and Fenton, a rampant Dublin ultimately eased over the line.
While there will be much scrutiny surrounding the new additions to the panel during the upcoming National Football League campaign, the presence of Jason Sherlock in Dublin's extended backroom team has also gained significant attention.
As a former team-mate of Sherlock, Gavin is well aware of what he can bring to the role of forwards coach, and is hopeful that he can help the forward line to improve certain aspects of their play.
"Jason brings an awful lot of expertise and experience and I played with Jason. He has got great game intelligence and got the respect of the squad and respect of the management team," said Gavin.
"When he talks about football people listen, and from knowing Jason down through the years and over the last few months, I just like his ideas.
"Our forward line was good last year, but we need to improve it and in aspects of our game both offensively and defensively. That's the reason why Jason has been brought in," Gavin added.
3 Dublin face NUI Maynooth this Sunday in the Bord na Mona O'Byrne Cup in Parnell Park (2.0).
Scorers - Dublin: N Collins 1-4, C McHugh 1-2, S Carthy (0-2 '45'), D Byrne 0-4 each, H Dawson 0-3, B Fenton 0-2, D Daly, T Brady 0-1 each.
Dubs Stars: D McLoughlin 1-4, G Burke 0-3, K McManamon (s/line), N Scully (f), C Walsh, G Smith 0-1 each.
DUBLIN: L Molloy; E Culligan, David Byrne, D Daly; E Lowndes, J Small, N Devereux; C Reddin, D Bastick; Davey Byrne, S Carthy, T Brady; C McHugh, H Dawson, N Collins.Subs used: S Currie, G Hannigan, M Fitzsimons, A Waters, S Lowndes, B Fenton.
DUBS STARS: M Savage; R O'Connor, J Curley, H Gill; M Sweeney, R McGowan, M Concarr; D O'Mahony, C Dunleavy; G Burke, K McManamon N Scully; C Walsh, D McLoughlin, G Smith. Subs used: C Grimes, A Foley, K O'Gara.
MENTORS - Dublin: J Gavin, D Darcy, M Deegan.
Dubs Stars: P McDonagh, P Clarke.
REF: D Feeney (Parnell's).
WIDES - Dublin: 13 (4). Dubs Stars: 12 (10).
CONDITIONS: Cloudy and extremely windy, but rain stayed away for the majority.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Niall Collins (St Pat's, Donabate).