Gavin and Daly's Dubs take first steps in defence of titles
JIM Gavin ends 2013 as he started it by taking charge of the Dublin football team which plays the Dublin Bus/The Herald Dubs Stars in the annual challenge series.
Gavin's own club, Round Towers of Clondalkin, is the venue for a double bill featuring the county hurling and football sides against the cream of the club crop.
Traditionally this event has been played on New Year's Day.
However, at Gavin's insistence, it goes ahead tonight, partly with a view to allowing the players enjoy what will be left of New Year's Eve after the matches are over.
The staging at Round Towers is entirely appropriate for a man who is a proud member of the Clondalkin club.
That said, nobody -- least of all Gavin -- knew what lay ahead as he set out his stall on January 1 last in the corresponding fixture at St Peregrine's ground.
He promised, and demanded, strict dedication to the cause, and came with a plan to make Dublin an attractive, attacking side.
Part of that scheme was introducing young talent such as Jack McCaffrey, Paul Mannion, and Ciaran Kilkenny with a view to giving them a chance to shine in senior football.
How well that worked out is now a matter of record.
A National League win was followed by a Leinster championship victory en route to the All-Ireland success which made the 2013 campaign one of stunning achievement.
And before we get too carried away with the footballers, the hurlers deserve a special salute from the crowd at Clondalkin tonight for bringing Dublin the Leinster Hurling Championship title for the first time since 1961.
They came close to knocking Cork out in the All-Ireland semi-final, but the hurling gods didn't smile on them that day.
All in all, then, a mighty effort but once tonight's games are finished, it's all systems go for 2014.
There had been speculation that team captain and stalwart goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton might retire, but he is named for duty this evening.
The Dubs Stars hurling and football teams original selections were front-loaded with players from the respective county champions, Ballyboden St Enda's and St Vincent's.
Of the Dubs Stars football side, the indications are that Diarmuid Connolly and Dean Rock may not be fit, while there is also a doubt about Tomas Quinn's fitness.
However, the Stars subs list includes experienced former county players Ross McConnell and Mark Vaughan, so they will have the strength in depth to give the footballers a decent outing.
Anthony Daly's hurlers whacked the 2012 Dubs Stars by 7-13 to 0-8 last January, and will be primed for another strong performance this evening.
Fogra: Dublin Bus will operate a free shuttle bus service from the LUAS Red Cow stop. Entry to the games costs €10 for adults; €5 for students/OAPs, and is free for children U-16.
Match times: Dublin hurlers v Dubs Stars 5.0; Dublin footballers v Dubs Stars 7.0.
Dublin (SH v Dubs Stars) -- S Chester; S Timlin, C O'Callaghan, C McCormack; S Hiney, M Carton, M McCaffrey; K Byrne, M Quilty; B Connolly, R O'Dwyer, S McGrath; D O'Callaghan, D Treacy, M Schutte. Subs: J Boland, N Corcoran, C Cronin, C Crummey, T Devlin, E Dillon, D Gormley, S McClelland, E O'Donnell, L Rushe, P Schutte, D Sutcliffe, R Trainor, G Whelan
Dubs Stars (SH) -- G Maguire; S O'Connor, P Kelly, J Doughan; S Durkin, R Lambert, C Robinson; N McMorrow, J McCaffrey; C Keaney, S Stapleton, P Winters; P Ryan, A McCrabbe, A McGreal. Subs: A Nolan, C O'Brien, D Kelly, R Mahon, S Ryan, A Roche, K O'Reilly.
Dublin (SF v Dubs Stars) -- S Cluxton; D Byrne, K O'Brien, M Fitzsimons; N Devereux, B Cullen, J McCaffrey; D O'Mahony, S Carthy; C Walsh, C Kilkenny, J Whelan; P Mannion, C Reddin, P Ryan.
Dubs Stars (SF) -- M Savage; S George, R McDaid, H Gill; A Hubbard, C Guckian, M Concarr; D Byrne, J McCarthy; G Burke, D Connolly, D Rock; E Keating, K McManamon, T Quinn. Subs: S Currie, J Curley, G McArdle, R McConnell, R Basquel, C Dorney, M Vaughan.