Tuesday 20 March 2018

Fitzsimons gets Dubs' full-back jersey for NFL opener

Dublin's Michael Fitzsimons Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin's Michael Fitzsimons Photo: Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Michael Fitzsimons has been handed the Dublin full-back jersey as they begin a new season without regular No 3 Rory O'Carroll, who won't be part of the squad this year.

Jim Gavin has named nine of the side that started last year's All-Ireland final for tonight's Allianz League opener against Kerry in Croke Park. Fitzsimons will be flanked by Jonny Cooper and David Byrne in the full-back line.

There's a notable return for Paul Mannion who didn't feature at all last season after heading to China as part of his UCD studies. The Kilmacud Crokes clubman is named at corner-forward. The men from the capital are beginning their attempt to win the Division 1 title for a fourth successive year, a phenomenal strike rate last achieved in 1971-74 by Kerry.

However, unlike Dublin who won two All-Ireland titles in the last three seasons, Kerry drew a blank in the early '70s, their closest call coming in' 72 when they lost the final to Offaly in a replay. That season apart, Kerry failed to come out of Munster, losing to Cork in 1971, '73 and '74.

Dublin's League record under Gavin has been quite remarkable, having won 19, drawn three and lost five of 27 games. The defeats came against Tyrone (2013), Cork (2014 and '15), Derry (2014) and Kerry (2015). The draws were against Donegal (2013), Mayo (2014) and Tyrone (2015).

Mayo manager Stephen Rochford has named a team with a liberal mix of youth and experience with the side showing nine survivors from the starting 15 who lined out in the team's last SFC game, which was against Dublin in the All-Ireland semi-final replay. Lee Keegan will captain the team on the day as no captain for the season has been appointed yet.

Roscommon have rung the changes for tomorrrow's clash with Monaghan. David Murray, returning from college duty with NUIG, Darren O'Malley, Niall McInerney, Sean McDermott Ian Kilbride, Fintan Cregg and Cathal Cregg all come in.

The players to lose out are Geoffrey Claffey, Tom Featherston, Brian Murtagh, Ronan Daly, Scott Oates, Kieran Kilcline and Cathal McHugh.

Irish Independent

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