Monday 19 March 2018

Gilroy leaves door open for ex-Ipswich 'keeper Supple

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

DUBLIN manager Pat Gilroy has left the door open for former Ipswich Town goalkeeper Shane Supple to rejoin the squad.

Gilroy, speaking in advance of tonight's gala occasion at Croke Park, where Dublin play Kerry and Kildare meet Tyrone in the Allianz Football League opening round, has no problem with the St Brigid's 'keeper opting out of the panel.

Supple has proven himself a fine netminder with Dublin champions and Leinster finalists St Brigid's, but he is third choice behind Stephen Cluxton and Michael Savage.

The 24-year-old informed Gilroy he did not wish to continue with the squad, but will be available if required in an emergency.

"I think it was the fact there were three goalkeepers and he just felt it was better for him to be back playing games with the club," said Gilroy.

"If there's a problem with either of the two that are left, he'll be available to us. It's as simple as that.

"You wouldn't worry about him in terms of his conditioning or being ready. Obviously, he's a very good goalkeeper and he's in very good condition. The fact that he wants to play more games with the club is understandable.

"We didn't have a real big issue with it. It's not a problem for us."

Just over two and a half years ago, Supple quit full-time soccer at Ipswich, where Roy Keane was manager, because he became disillusioned with the professional game.

He is the fourth player from the 2011 All-Ireland-winning panel to opt out: David Henry retired from inter-county football, Ross O'Carroll is gone to the Dublin hurlers and Paul Conlon has emigrated.

Gilroy gives Craig Dias of Kilmacud Crokes and UCD a competitive debut at left half-back for tonight's big game.

Diarmuid Connolly, Eoghan O'Gara and Tomas Quinn form the full-forward line, with Alan and Bernard Brogan not fully ready to start a game yet.

Tonight's match is the start of an important league and championship campaign for the Dubs and Gilroy wants improved performances in 2012.

"We'd be very honest with ourselves. In the last two games of the championship, while it was great to win them, we didn't exactly shoot the lights out in the way we played. We went through patches in both games where we were awful. We were probably the worst we were during the year. We turned it around both games and played quite well in patches, but that wouldn't be enough.

"They were very tight margins to win a semi-final by two points and a final by one.

"Clearly if we did that again, it would be asking a lot to be recovering from the situations we found ourselves in during those matches, so we definitely have to improve."

Tonight's programme includes a dramatic opening, with fireworks and a team of abseilers descending from the Hogan Stand with the match ball.

The atmosphere likely to be generated by over 40,000 people should nicely set up another Dublin v Kerry clash.

The Kingdom had not lost a championship match to the Dubs since James McCarthy's dad John was playing against them in 1977, but the Dublin manager sees that as merely a statistic.

"Kerry will be realistic. It won't be the be-all and end-all for them if they win or if they lose, but, naturally, they'll have a lot of motivation to come out and win the game, just as we did after 2009 when we were playing them in the first game in 2010.

"You'd expect no different from Kerry. They came to Croke Park last year (in the league) and put up a serious performance. They were down a lot of resources at that time too, but I'd expect no different on Saturday."

Dublin will be captained again this year by Bryan Cullen, with Ger Brennan the vice-captain.

Dublin (SF v Kerry) -- S Cluxton; M Fitzsimons, R O'Carroll, P McMahon; J McCarthy, G Brennan, C Dias; R McConnell, MD Macauley; P Brogan, K McManamon, B Cullen; D Connolly, E O'Gara, T Quinn.

Irish Independent

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