Tomorrow Jim Gavin and his Dublin squad start what they hope will be a long journey through the 2017 season.
While Gavin and his troops got some well earned rest under the hot Jamaican skies, a group of young men were entrusted to compete in the O’Byrne Cup competition with the prospect of the chance of securing a place on Jim’s national football league squad.
Last weekend while the established Dublin stars were being put through their paces at a training camp, the young Dublin hopefuls managed by Paul Clarke, swept Louth aside to lift the O’Byrne Cup and host of potential new Dublin stars put themselves forward for inclusion going forward.
Gavin announced his first team of 2017 earlier today and although none of the new hopefuls are included, any doubts about Dublin treating the league lightly this year, were quickly banished.
The Dublin boss named a strong lineup to take on Cavan that includes ten of the side that started last years All Ireland Final replay and also four players Byrne, MacAuley, Costello and Lowndes who came off the substitutes bench.
Eoghan O’Gara gets the chance to make up for a lack of game time last season as he is handed the number 14 jersey and after his stunning introduction in the All Ireland replay against Mayo, Cormac Costello gets the chance to shine and secure a place in the starting 15 for the rest of the league.
Add in Dean Rock, Kevin McManamon, Ciaran Kilkenny and the quick paced Paul Mannion and the Cavan back line will have there hands full tomorrow.
For the newly promoted Cavan side the prospect of welcoming the reigning League and All Ireland champions to their home ground, will certainly instill a sense of excitement among their squad and supporters.
The Breffni outfit will have targeted their home fixtures as must wins if they are to stand any chance of avoiding relegation back down to division two, a loss tomorrow will seriously put them on the back foot.
Cavan were impressive last year in gaining promotion, but having lost established stars like David Giveney, Eugene Keating, Fergal Flanagan who ruled themselves out this season and the enforced absence through injury of Gearóid McKiernan, Mattie McGleenan’s side are not as strong as the team that got promoted.
Taking all that into account, plus the strength in depth of Jim Gavin’s squad, the fact that only the top two teams qualify for the league final this year and with players like O’Gara, Fitzsimons and Costello plus a host of young hopefuls on the bench with a point to prove, it could be a very long afternoon for Cavan and their supporters.
All indications point to an opening win for Dublin which will extend their unbeaten run of games to 30 in league and championship.