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Super Saints tee up their title defence Brigid's among clubs with new bosses for league start

Sunday morning will herald the start of the Dublin Adult Football Leagues and Division 1 promises to provide a cracking campaign as 16 sides battle it out to follow St Brigid's example from 2013.

The Blanchardstown outfit claimed the AFL1 title with a stirring final success over perennial challengers St Sylvester's in Balgriffin last December, and their victory last year highlighted the competitive nature of the division.

Of added interest this year is the raft of new management appointments that have been made during the close-season, with Brigid's themselves securing the noteworthy services of Tony McEntee.

How McEntee manages to transfer the Crossmaglen template to his new club will be an intriguing subplot to enjoy over the coming months.

And, if his record in Armagh and beyond is transferred to Russell Park, then Brigid's look well primed to defend their title, especially as call-ups to the county panel look likely to be restricted to Paddy Andrews and Philly Ryan for the time being.

If the league title doesn't find its way to Dublin 15, Na Fianna could be a team to enjoy a successful campaign. They also boast a new manager in the familiar guise of 'Pillar' Caffrey, and his knowledge of the personnel from three successive U21 'A' championship-winning sides should ensure a seamless transition.

They also shouldn't be too inconvenienced by inclusions in Jim Gavin's senior panel, Jonny Cooper notwithstanding, and that consistency of selection and obvious talent could make for a fascinating and positive season down on St Mobhi Road.

TREND

Another side that can harbour genuine claims in 2014 are Sylvester's, who have also followed the current trend when naming former Kilmacud Crokes forward, Robbie Brennan, as successor to Gabriel Bannigan in Malahide.

Syls have traditionally produced competitive teams in the league and their attacking talent is undeniable given they possess the quality of Eoin Fanning, Eugene Keating, Gary Sweeney and Mícheál McCarthy in their ranks. Their priorities possibly lay later on in the year in the championship.

But Syls have proven perennial challengers in the league in recent times and there is little reason to assume that won't be the case in 2014, given the wealth of talent at their disposal. Ballymun Kickhams and St Oliver Plunkett's/Eoghan Ruadh should also find themselves in the top half of the table, while Ballyboden St Enda's look well capable of improving on their Top 4 semi-final loss to Syls last year.

The arrival of Andy McEntee is a positive indication and the conveyor belt of underage talent should continue, with Robbie McDaid, Ryan Basquel, Collie Dunne and Alan Flood all expected to maintain their development in the coming year.

Boden's previous manager, Conor Deegan, has made the short but familiar trip across to former club Kilmacud. However, the abundance of Dublin senior players in the Crokes panel could mitigate against them challenging for honours in the league for the time being.

Of the promoted teams, St Patrick's, Donabate will enter the impending season with huge confidence following successive promotions, and the manner in which they claimed the notoriously difficult AFL2 title last year should stand in their stead.

Similar to their north county neighbours St Maur's, St Pat's will need to take full advantage of their home games and ensure that Donabate is a less than fruitful venue for travelling teams when it comes to picking up crucial league points.

That scenario will be put to the test on Sunday morning as Templeogue Synge Street make the lengthy journey in a fixture that both sides will earmark as crucial to their survival chances.

Synger have been accused in the past of proving far too reliant on their county players, Eoghan O'Gara and Denis Bastick.

DEPTH

But there is greater depth to their panel at present, as witnessed by their demolition of Ballinteer St John's in the AFL2 promotion play-off final last December. Niall Scully and Conor McKiernan epitomise the class evident in Templeogue's ranks and their all-round physicality will prove beneficial in a league that tests a side's endurance to the limit.

If Synge Street and St Patrick's are to cement their places in the top flight, that could put added pressure on the likes of Thomas Davis, St Mary's and Raheny, with the latter also with a new manager (Colm McMahon) following the departure of Ciarán Whelan.


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