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A New Year, a New Beginning for Dublin GAA

Over the past number of years, Dublin’s failure to capture Sam Maguire has been well documented. Not since 1995, have they managed to win the All-Ireland – despite having won the last five Leinster titles consecutively.

For some reason provincial glory has failed to transfer onto a national scale and it has left a lot of Dublin officials scratching their heads and wondering where it is all going wrong.

This year though, Pat Gilroy has clearly identified the need for change and it has been long overdue. His predecessor, Paul Caffrey, kept faith with a core group of preferred players during his term in charge despite their consistent shortcomings on the inter-county scene.

From an engineer’s point of view, if you put together a machine that repeatedly lets you down eventually you have to go back to the drawing board and try to reconstruct it. And it appears Pat Gilroy’s is currently in the process of doing exactly that after sticking to much of Caffrey’s blueprints first time around.

Mid-field steward Ciaran Whelan decided he was no longer fit to make this new machine tick and retired without the All-Ireland he so desperately craved. Under the new regime, other high-profile players such as Mark Vaughan also seem to have fallen out of favour, while former All-Star Shane Ryan has switched allegiance to the hurlers.

Since last summer’s hammering at the hands of Kerry in Croke Park, the manager is believed to have scoured the county in search of new blood and so far in 2010 many have benefited from this fresh approach.
These are exciting times for Dublin GAA Supporters.

Thee entire squad looks rejuvenated and stronger after the introduction of several new faces. In recent years, the Sky Blues have been more commonly known as the ‘nearly men’ but that team has been dismantled.

In search of a new found self-belief, Gilroy has put his faith in new blood.

In such a pressurised job, where anything but keeping Sam Maguire in the capital is deemed as failure, the manager has taken a significant gamble.

The Dublin team which has started the opening two NFL games is an unfamiliar one with very few household names in it.

Teenagers James McCarthy and Darragh Nelson have been given their chance at wing-back, while the O’Carroll brothers, Rory and Ross, of Kilmacud Crokes and the much publicised Eamon Fennell have also benefited from Gilroy’s new youthful approach.

Paul Flynn, who was a crucial cog in the DCU machine which won the Sigerson Cup recently, has developed into a wing-forward as good as any while corner-forward has proved a real handful in Dublin’s opening two league games.

Two wins in as many matches has seen Dublin jump to the top of the league table after impressive victories over an experimental Kerry outfit and Derry. Vvery few would have been bold enough to have predicted that result at the start of the season if they had of seen the unfamiliar Dublin team which took to the field.

However, like many teams in the past Dublin are sure to discover that getting to the top is not always the hardest part. Staying there will be there problem and Dublin manager Pat Gilroy knows his side can’t get carried away this early in the season.

“It’s all about consistency. There’s no point in doing this and then playing brutal next week. There’s no point in having a flash game and then having a poor game. That has been our problem in the championship [in the past] – a great performance followed by a poor one,” he said after their first league victory on Kerry soil in 28 years.

Ultimately, league titles are not what Dublin are chasing and nothing worthwhile is ever won in February on the inter-county scene. Come summer in the heat of battle in Croke Park, Gilroy’s new boys will have to become men.

For now though, they can enjoy their bedding-in period and don’t be surprised to see the reintroduction of a few more familiar faces into sky-blue jerseys by the end of the campaign.

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Allianz hurling league moves into penultimate stage
An interview with Emma Byrne

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