Wednesday 21 March 2018

Hudson on the mark to kick-start Gavin reign

Dublin 0-16
Dubs Stars 1-11

Robert McCarthy in action against Elliot Reilly, Dublin Blue Stars,.during the annual challenge match at St Peregrine's Club
Robert McCarthy in action against Elliot Reilly, Dublin Blue Stars,.during the annual challenge match at St Peregrine's Club
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

Dublin football manager Jim Gavin got his reign off to a perfect start with a New Year's Day victory in the annual Evening Herald Dubs Stars Challenge.

And the manner of the victory particularly pleased him, as his admittedly experimental-looking side came from behind after playing second fiddle for a long time to a team which comprised of the best players from this year's Dublin club championship.

Their opponents, understandably, featured a slew of the Ballymun side who won this season's Leinster club championship and were also managed by Kickhams boss Paul Curran.

That explained why the Dubs Stars had such an unusually cohesive look to them, helping to produce an entertaining game that attracted over 1,000 to St Peregrine's excellent facilities in Clonsilla.

This is always Dublin's traditional post-Christmas blowout and pre-season trial game, which helps the county manager run the rule over potential new players.

Few new inter-county managers would be as au-fait with their county's rising underage talent as the Round Towers clubman, who led Dublin to two All-Ireland U-21 titles in the last three years.

It certainly would have been no surprise to him to see Paul Hudson grabbing his chance to impress with both hands.

Despite being marked by Cian O'Sullivan, the Thomas Davis attacker, who was corner-forward for the U-21s last season, was the standout player on show, scoring 0-6, five of those from play.


Another who caught the eye was Tomas Brady. The former Dublin hurling star impressed in a central defensive role in what was his first game of senior football for the county and certainly did enough to suggest that Gavin has recruited him wisely.

With Bryan Cullen getting married to top Irish sprinter Ailis McSweeney yesterday, there were a lot of big-name absentees, but Michael Darragh Macauley and the recalled Declan O'Mahony did well in midfield.

Yet Dublin's experimental side struggled for a long period against their club All Stars, for whom James McCarthy and Paddy Andrews were most prominent, with McCarthy lining out at midfield and Andrews at centre-forward.

Ballymun wing-backs Alan Hubbard and James Burke, and their clubmate Dean Rock, were also central and helped them to an early two-point lead and it was only in the late stages of the first half that the Dubs first got their noses in front.

But then a great goal on the stroke of half-time, set up by Rock and well taken by St Sylvester's rangy Micheal McCarthy, gave the Dubs Stars the upper hand (1-4 to 0-6) again at the break.

McCarthy helped the Dubs Stars go two points clear soon after the resumption and they were still a brace ahead with 10 minutes left.

But, after completely rejigging his side with eight half-time substitutions, Gavin's men began to find their rhythm and two points from Hudson and another from local boy Robert McCarthy saw them quickly snatch back the lead.

Hudson had a great goal chance then, after receiving an inch-perfect pass inside from 2012 minor Shane Carthy, but sent it wide.

But he quickly followed it up with his sixth score of the day and Craig Dunleavy and Harry Dawson tagged on two excellent insurance scores to seal the deal for Gavin on his first official outing.

Diarmuid Connolly was captain yesterday, but Gavin confirmed afterwards that he will be rotating the Dublin captaincy until much later in the year.

"The panel will be very open until we get through the O'Byrne Cup phase and then we'll revisit it and again after the National League, before the championship," he explained, indicating that he's happy also to wait on the Ballymun players until their club commitments are over.

Scorers – Dublin: P Hudson 0-6 (1f), D Connolly 0-3 (2f), R McCarthy 0-2, MD Macauley , P Quinn, H Dawson, C Dunleavy and C Reddin 0-1 each. Dubs Stars: M McCarthy 1-2 (1f), K Leahy 0-3, T Furman 0-2, D Rock 0-2 (2f), P McMahon and J Burke 0-1 each.

Dublin – V Whelan; K O'Brien, T Brady, S George; D Daly, G Brennan, J McCaffrey; D O'Mahony, MD Macauley; P Quinn, D Connolly, J Whelan; P Hudson, R McCarthy, H Dawson.

Subs used: D Byrne, K Connolly, C Dunleavy, E Lowdnes, E O'Conghaile, C Reddin, G Seaver, S Carthy and G Sweeney.

Dubs Stars – S Currie; G Roche, P McMahon, C O'Sullivan; A Hubbard, C Guckian, J Burke; J McCarthy, E Reilly; T Furman, P Andrews, A Morrissey; P Mannion, D Rock, M McCarthy.

Subs used: S Lowndes, S Supple, C McKiernan and D Lynch.

Ref – T Lambe.

Irish Independent

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