As Dublin come to the end of their preparations for this Saturday’s All Ireland Senior Football Quarter Final encounter with Monaghan, the recent news that three of Dublin’s marquee team members, Paul Flynn, Michael Darragh Macauley and Jonny Cooper, are fit and available once again for selection has been a welcome message to the faithful Dublin Supporters.
And of course with that comes the usual discussions on TV, radio, podcasts, print media, bar stools, living rooms, office canteens, you name it, of how difficult a selection decision this makes for Dublin manager Jim Gavin with only a couple of days to go.
But earlier today, in his pre game press briefing in the Gibson Hotel, the Dublin boss, while confirming the trio are indeed available, also admitted that he’s looking at them right now, not basing his decision on what they’ve done before.
“We know that those players have produced in the past for Dublin but what I’m concerned about is how these players will apply themselves right now.” Gavin told RTÉ Sport.
“The good news is that they’re playing very well.”
“What we’re looking at in training is their form.”
Gavin has proven in the last year that if Dublin are to continue being successful and maintain their status as the best in the country, they must evolve as a panel. You only have to look at the likes of Con O’Callaghan, Eric Lowndes, Niall Scully, Brian Fenton and John Small, all now fully capable of stepping into any of the roles held by a lot of the multi All Ireland winners of the past number of years.
And thankfully for the Dublin Manager, all bar one member of the panel are available and ready for duty this weekend.
Whitehall Colmcille’s Cormac Costello has missed the entire 2017 season after suffering a hamstring issue at club level earlier this year. A terrible blow for the young Dubliner who in last year’s All Ireland Final replay arrived in style, leaving the bench and scoring three match-winning points from play.
But there is some good news on that front from his inter county boss.
“Cormac is back on the pitch, he’s partaking in the training sessions again. It’s just a little bit too early for him.”
As for their opponents this weekend, Gavin knows that they’ve come a long way since beating them in the 2014 All Ireland Quarter Final game.
“They’ve probably added a little bit of a mix to their forward division.”
“Conor McManus has been one of the top forwards in the country for the last number of years but Jack McCarron scored 1-10 against us in the League, McCarthy is another young player, (Ryan) McAnespie that we’d know from Sigerson, Owen Duffy, and Fintan Kelly has got three goals in the Championship from corner-back.
“When you add in the two Hughes’ at midfield it says ‘this is a potent Monaghan team’ and their defensive structure has always been solid.”
“Our National Football League game up in Clones was a really tight game right to the very end and the last couple of encounters have been really tight.
“Both sets are equally matched so it’s going to be a tight game.”