Dublin stars endure double duty as Gilroy 'toughens up' squad
Pat Gilroy has ordered a 'doubling up' of daily training sessions for the Dublin footballers in a bid to hit the ground running over the next few months.
A large contingent of Dublin players braved the freezing early morning conditions for a 6.30am start to their first official session of the year yesterday.
Temperatures were at -5 degrees on the dials of some players' cars as they checked in for the early morning fitness session.
Later yesterday evening, they gathered again for a second session slated for Ballymun Kickhams all-weather facility.
Another double dose of training is scheduled for tomorrow as Gilroy explores the depths of the psychological threshold of the squad he intends putting together.
Dublin are not the first squad to roll out the twice-daily training routine, something that is normally reserved for foreign or weekend training camps.
In his time as Clare hurling manager, Ger Loughnane would regularly assemble his squad twice on a Saturday, once in the morning and again later in the evening. Again the thinking was that it would improve the mental strength of the players if they could kick-start tiring bodies and go at it all over again.
St Vincent's also did something similar in the build-up to their All-Ireland semi-final and finals two years ago so the template is there.
Gilroy has indicated that he is looking to inject new steel to create the type of Dublin player he wants and the training schedule this week is a first step along the way.
Significantly, there was no sign of Jason Sherlock at either session yesterday with speculation abounding that he has been advised to train with his club before a review takes place in March.
Bryan Cullen was also missing, although he is connected once more to DCU who are involved in the O'Byrne Cup.
Conal Keaney was involved but has still to make a firm decision about his future. However, Gilroy is confident he'll stick with the footballers and there are murmurings that he could be team captain this year.
Meanwhile, Gilroy's Dublin will again be in action against a Dublin selection for the 50th anniversary of St Declan's College in Cabra.
St Declan's All Stars, featuring several players who have worn the sky blue shirt at various levels in the past, will take on Dublin in hurling and football games on Thursday, January 21, at Russell Park, the home of St Brigid's GFC.
Among those who are committed to playing with St Declan's are Alan, Bernard, Paul and Philip Brogan; Barry, Declan and Martin Cahill; former Na Fianna players Senan Connell and Karl Donnelly; Graeme Norton of St Brigid's and Gareth Smith of St Oliver Plunkett's Eoghan Ruadh, who is tied up with Tommy Carr's Cavan squad at present.
Shane Supple, the former Ipswich Town goalkeeper who could feature for Dublin this season, is also eligible.
St Declan's will be managed by Mick Galvin and Jim and Bernard Brogan, who are all past pupils.
Current Dublin hurling selector Vinny Teehan, a teacher in the school will take charge of the hurling team.
Michael and Peadar Carton and Alan Nolan are among the best known names eligible for the school's hurling stars though there will be some invited guests on the night.