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Dublin's Eoghan O'Gara in action against Maynooth University trio Conor Carton, David Hyland and Padraig Faulker during their O'Byrne Cup clash at Parnell Park. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Dublin's Eoghan O'Gara in action against Maynooth University trio Conor Carton, David Hyland and Padraig Faulker during their O'Byrne Cup clash at Parnell Park. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

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Dublin's Harry Dawson in action against Niall Lenihan of Maynooth University during their O'Byrne Cup clash at Parnell Park. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Dublin's Harry Dawson in action against Niall Lenihan of Maynooth University during their O'Byrne Cup clash at Parnell Park. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

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Dublin's Diarmuid McLoughlin in action against Niall Lenihan of Maynooth University during their O'Byrne Cup clash at Parnell Park. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Dublin's Diarmuid McLoughlin in action against Niall Lenihan of Maynooth University during their O'Byrne Cup clash at Parnell Park. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

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Dublin's Eoghan O'Gara in action against Maynooth University trio Conor Carton, David Hyland and Padraig Faulker during their O'Byrne Cup clash at Parnell Park. Photo: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Job done. Move along. Nothing to see here - at least nothing that was likely to raise the blood pressure to a dangerously high level after the recent Christmas blow-out on grub and booze.

Maybe it was different for the fledgling Dubs, the ones who were trying to impress manager Jim Gavin and claim a place in his squad for the league and championship.

For them this game had a particular relevance, as it did to panel members from last year who wanted to get a jump-start into 2015.

Experimental

Dublin, fielding an experimental side, were still expected to win, and they duly obliged.

They led by seven points at half-time, and went on to close out the result seven points clear of Maynooth University. Performance-wise it was a mixed bag.

Maynooth manager John Cotter conceded that he had no option but to opt for a defensive formation in the college's O'Byrne Cup debut against one of the top teams in the country.

His players did their best to follow instructions in the first half, but for most of the opening 35 minutes they saw precious little of the ball and should have been punished by far more than the 1-7 to 0-3 interval scoreline.

Dean Rock had a strange day out. The Ballymun Kickhams forward was at the hub of practically every good piece of play produced by Dublin in that first half.

He scored five points in total, a couple of them in his usual strikingly classy style from play, and laid on the ball for Eoghan O'Gara's close-range fisted goal after just three minutes.

But Rock also missed eight opportunities in the first half, hitting wide seven times and one shot that rebounded off the crossbar.

O'Gara showed a great appetite for winning ugly ball and there were plenty of bright, positive performances from the Dubs, particularly the experienced Denis Bastick and younger lads such as John Small, Shane Carthy of Naomh Mearnóg, Niall Collins, Tomás Brady, Harry Dawson and defender Darren Daly.

Maynooth's main threat came from Meath's Barry Dardis, who did a little too well for the liking of his marker Mick Fitzsimons.

The Cuala defender had the better of the early exchanges with Dardis, but the Meath man got two points late in the first half, and beat Fitzsimons to the ball to score Maynooth's goal as they staged a revival five minutes into the second half.

Ultimately, there were positives for both teams. The effort was admirable by the students who are preparing for the Sigerson Cup, and Gavin was reasonably satisfied with his team's display.

"It was a spirited performance, the work rate was high, and we created a lot of scoring chances," he said.

"We didn't take a lot of them but you couldn't fault the heart and endeavour from the players so it's good to get back on the road again."

The Dubs boss gradually emptied the subs' bench in the second half when Maynooth were at their strongest.

"It's a pre-season competition. You want to put players in difficult situations," he said.

"There was only five or six points in it at one stage and Maynooth had come back strong at us so it was a time to see if guys could make those right decisions on the field of play in scenarios where they had to figure it out for themselves without the more experienced guys around them.

"But I thought they handled it very well and they closed the game out well against a very good Maynooth side."

Dublin might have been stretched a little more if a 49th-minute quick-reaction shot on the turn by Dardis had hit the net, but Daly made a diving block to save the shot and the ball was cleared.

Relieved

Maynooth manager Cotter would love to have seen Dardis rewarded with a goal from that incident to up the ante against Dublin. Realistically, however, he was more relieved that the potential pasting did not materialise.

"I knew what I had and I knew that we'd have to set up defensively against them," he said.

"Otherwise, if we went out to play 15 against 15, the scoreboard wouldn't have been as nice to us as it is. I know you're still saying we got beaten by seven points, but we created a goal chance near the end and maybe if one or two of the frees went over the bar, who knows?

"But then you can also say they missed one or two chances as well, and Dean Rock was flying for them in the first half. Look, we're happy enough with the performance."

Gavin now looks ahead to Wednesday night's match against Offaly at Parnell Park.

His squad is minus the St Vincent's players who are in the All-Ireland Club semi-finals, and a number of players are on O'Byrne Cup duty with university teams, but goalie Stephen Cluxton and full-back Rory O'Carroll are back in training.

Scorers: Dublin: E O'Gara 1-3, D Rock 0-5 (3fs), E O'Conghaile, T Brady, S Carthy, D McLoughlin 0-1 each. Maynooth: B Dardis 1-2, R Kennedy, B Duggan, N Walsh (f) 0-1 each.

Dublin: L Molloy; M Fitzsimons, E Culligan, D Daly; N Devereux, J Small, G Hannigan; D Bastick, E O'Conghaile; T Brady, D Rock, S Carthy; H Dawson, E O'Gara, N Collins. Subs: N Scully for E O'Conghaile (40); I Kavanagh for M Fitzsimons (50); S Lowndes for T Brady (59); D McLoughlin for D Rock (59); A McCarrick for D Daly (61); C Dunleavy for E O'Gara (64).

Maynooth: P G Brody; C Carton, D Hyland, N Lenihan; E Lowndes, S McElory, F Flanagan; G Hannigan, P Faulker; J Gonoud, N Walsh, D Duke; B Duggan, R Kennedy, B Dardis. Subs: K Mulhall for S McElroy (h-t); P Lynch for R Kennedy (51); T Gibbons for D Duke (57); M McCarville for B Duggan (64); R McEneany for C Carton (67); L Barrett for B Dardis (71).

Referee: S Murphy (Louth).

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