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McManamon takes plaudits as Dublin get back in groove

DUBLIN'S footballers picked up where they left off yesterday, with goals from Player of the Year Alan Brogan and All-Ireland final hero Kevin McManamon bookending their victory in the annual New Year's Day 'Dubs Stars' game.

With that traditional plum pudding loosener out of the way, their new season resumes with one of their legendary early morning training sessions tomorrow.

And manager Pat Gilroy stressed: "The real work starts now and we've probably a bit of catching up to do. Everyone is refreshed now after their holidays, we're ready to go. A lot of them are in reasonable enough shape."

Dublin started the game with just four of their All-Ireland starters and only have 13 of last summer's squad available for the upcoming O'Byrne Cup, due to injuries and college commitments.

Their absentees include Bernard Brogan, who has gone abroad travelling, and while Gilroy expects most of his squad back by January 20, he said the Oliver Plunketts star will not be back until a week before the Allianz League begins, which rules him out of the Dubs' big opening-day rematch with Kerry.

Another certain absentee will be Gilroy's right-hand man Mickey Whelan, who stepped down in the wake of the All-Ireland victory, and the manager revealed yesterday that he has no plans to replace his team trainer.

"No, I won't be looking for a trainer at the minute, we'll belt away," Gilroy said. "There's lads (still there) who were involved last year and I'll be talking to Mickey about the stuff we did last year, we have it all well documented so we'll just press on."

All-Ireland-winning captain Bryan Cullen was forced to pull out yesterday after damaging his shoulder in the warm-up.

With conditions on Thomas Davis' excellent all-weather surface beneath the Glenasmole Valley positively Baltic, Michael Dara Macauley and Darragh Nelson sensibly donned Premiership-style tights. Gilroy's starters included Paddy Andrews, who was jettisoned before the championship last year.

Local man Paul Hudson and ex-Armagh player John Murtagh threw down the gauntlet early on, but a brilliant goal from Alan Brogan after just three minutes, and another from Macauley eight minutes later, kept Dublin in it.

The Dub Stars, led from midfield by Ross McConnell, started with the big wind advantage, and goals from Ken Darcy and McConnell put them a point clear before two frees by Blaine Kelly put Dublin back in the lead (2-6 to 2-5) at the break.

Turning to take advantage of the gale, they looked set to pull away but inspired by sub-keeper Philip Brogan's early save of a Colm Murphy shot, the Dubs Stars dominated possession.

There was only two scores -- frees from Ken Darcy and John Murtagh -- in the next 20 minutes before points from Rory Corcoran and Michael McCarthy put Dublin ahead. Then McManamon struck, cleverly going low to beat the 'keeper and a great long-range free by Kelly gave Dublin some breathing space, which they needed to survive a late Philly Ryan goal.

Scorers -- Dublin: A Brogan 1-2, K McManamon 1-0, MD Macauley 1-0, M McCarthy (1f), B Kelly (3f) 0-3 each, C Murphy, R Corcoran 0-1 each. Dubs Stars: K Darcy 1-1 (1f), R McConnell 1-1 (1'45), P Ryan 1-0, P Hudson 0-3, J Murtagh (1f) 0-3.

Dublin -- M Savage; M Fitzsimons, P McMahon, D Daly; D Lally, J McCarthy, J Small; MD MacAuley, C Murphy; P Brogan, A Brogan, D Nelson; P Andrews, E O'Gara, M McCarthy. Subs used: N Devereaux, K McManamon, B Kelly, C O'Sullivan, E Fennell, R Corcoran.

Dubs Stars -- S Supple; G Norton, S Lyons, M Cahill; K Connolly, S O'Shaughnessy, G Kane; D Byrne, R McConnell; A Hubbard, J Murtagh, M Cahill; J O'Loughlin, K Darcy, P Hudson. Subs used: P Boland, P Ryan, Philip Brogan, E Kirby, C Farrelly.

REF -- G McCormack.

Irish Independent