An Alternative Dublin Starting Fifteen is Outrageous
A common conversation in the run up to Dublin’s All-Ireland final with Mayo is just how strong their bench is. In fact, it’s so strong we’ve had a look at two different alternative Dublin starting 15’s, excluding any players named in the starting 15 for Sunday.
Firstly, let’s look at a side using only players in outfield positions who have seen championship football this year or in last year’s final. As it’s top heavy with midfielders and forwards, we’ve had to manoeuvre it a bit, but we’ve managed.
1 Evan Comerford – All-Ireland under 21 winning goalkeeper with a boot not so far behind the standard of Stephen Cuxton.
2 Davey Byrne – Regular starting corner back in 2016. Started in the 2016 drawn final.
3 Mark Schutte – With a selection a bit shy on defenders, it’s not a huge stretch to put him at full back. Played centre back for Cuala’s Dublin Senior Hurling and All-Ireland club success. Came on at midfield against Carlow.
4 Darren Daly – Probably Dublin’s most regular substitute. Infrequently starts but has come on in all three of Dublin’s All-Ireland wins since 2013, including for half a game in 2013 against Kerry to shore up the half back line. Typically goes wing back or corner back.
5 Eric Lowndes – Has started four out of five games this year and came on against Tyrone. Came on in the 2016 final replay. May well start on Sunday, despite not being named.
6 Dennis Bastick – Possibly a bit of a stretch to put him centre back, but with a plethora of midfielders, not beyond reason he could be deployed here to use his experience, as the likes of Aidan O’Mahony have been for Kerry. Started the 2011 and 2015 finals. Came on in 2013 and made memorable cameo in injury time in 2016.
7 Paul Flynn – Not as big a of a stretch as it might seem. Played a bit in the half back line when he was younger and has dropped as an extra man late on in big games. Probably the most likely to make a positional switch from the 16 available. Has started in all four All-Ireland wins and has four All-Stars.
8 Michael Darragh Macauley – Was the starting midfielder up until last year’s final. Possibly would have been again had he not been injured. Has started in three and played all five of the recent All-Ireland finals. Player of the Year in 2013.
9 Brian Howard – Up and coming midfielder. You have to expect we’ll see a lot more of him when Macauley and Flynn hang up their boots. Came on against Westmeath and Kildare in Leinster.
10 Shane Carthy – One of Vincent’s key players. He’s won three Dublin and Leinster Senior Club Championships and one club All-Ireland. Came on against Westmeath and Kildare in Leinster. We named him on the Grsssroots-Gaa Senior Championship Team of the Year last year.
11 Diarmuid Connolly – Undoubtedly the most technically able footballer in the country. We all know why he’s been out of the side. Obviously, played in all five recent All-Ireland finals.
12 Kevin McManamon – Has acquired a reputation as a super-sub but has started just as regularly. Was being muted as a “Player of the Year “contender last year until he apparently under-performed in the replayed final and missed an All-Star award– except he scored a point and was fouled for three scored frees that day, making him Dublin’s highest contributor of scores/scoreable frees won (in the “poor” game that apparently cost him an All-Star).
13 Cormac Costello – Dublin’s highest scorer in the 2014 championship on a minute by minute basis, before being plagued by injury, only to come on and score three points in last year’s final replay. Plagued again this year, but would be a significant player of he was fit.
14 Eoghan O’Gara – Probably Dublin’s unsung hero. A target man at least on a par with Kieran Donaghy. A crucial cog in the wheel in certain types of games. Has seen game time in all four recent All-Ireland final wins, except 2015 when he was injured.
15 Bernard Brogan – Probably considered Dublin’s marquee scoring forward up until twelve months ago. You’d scarcely have believed he wouldn’t be in the team until later last year. Played in all four All-Ireland final wins and was Player of the Year in 2010.
16- Conor Mchugh – With all of that we’re still left with a forward who would walk into most county teams, who scored 1-6 from play in an under 21 All-Ireland final! If you want to be pedantic, with Costello injured, he’d be a potent starting forward. Came on against Carlow.
Now let’s add in three more players who have stopped playing inter-county, for now at least, but who are still more than capable. It leaves an outrageous team!
Ger Brennan – Still going strong with St. Vincent’s, playing centre back in last year’s Dublin and Leinster finals. Giving his all to his club’s provincial and All-Ireland campaigns probably didn’t help with a knee problem which cut his county career short. If called upon on Sunday, hypothetically, would still be one of the most competent centre backs/sweepers in the country. Played in the 2013 and 2011 wins.
Kevin Nolan – Still a key player for Croke’s as they go in search of a senior club championship. Looked set for an illustrious career after being awarded the Man of the Match in the 2011, before health problems cut his inter-county career short. If called upon on Sunday, hypothetically, would still be a more than capable inter-county wing back.
Rory O’Carroll – Has taken two seasons out to go abroad. Played in the 2011 and 2013 final wins. Will probably win his place back in the starting team, assuming he returns next year.
1 Evan Comerford
2 Davey Byrne
3 Rory O’Carroll
4 Darren Daly
5 Eric Lowndes
6 Ger Brennan
7 Kevin Nolan
8 Michael Darragh Macauley
9 Dennis Bastick/Brian Howard/Mark Schutte/Shane Carthy
10 Paul Flynn
11 Diarmuid Connolly
12 Kevin McManamon
13 Cormac Costello
14 Eoghan O’Gara
15 Bernard Brogan
By Stephen O’Meara
Photos courtesy of Kieron O’Brien