DCU prepare to face All-Ireland champions in O’Byrne Cup

DCU and Dublin met in the 2014 O'Byrne Cup.

Dublin City University will visit Parnell Park to face the Dublin senior footballers on Sunday, January 8th in the opening fixture of this year’s O’Byrne Cup. Both sides will know the importance of a winning start to 2017 as they share a closely contested group with University College Dublin and Wexford.

Dublin are without all of those involved in the 2016 All-Ireland winning campaign as the annual team holiday is taking place this week in Jamaica As a result a relatively inexperienced Dublin team will line out in their place.

Former minor and under-21 stars such as Niall Scully, Gary Sweeney, Paul Hudson and Michael Deegan are all expected to start while fringe players such as Ciarán Reddin and Jason Whelan should also feature. Three members of Castleknock’s impressive Dublin championship run have also been named in the 24-man panel.

DCU will be without former star Conor McHugh who will line out for Dublin on Sunday. McHugh has finished his studies at DCU and will now face his former side.

Donie Smith could feature for DCU while key players like Enda Smith, Kevin Feely, David Mannix and Hugh McFadden will need to perform in order to cause an upset on Sunday.

Last year, the teams met at the same stage with the students pushing a much more familiar Dublin team all the way in a close encounter. Jim Gavin’s side edged it by four points on a day in which Enda Smith and Shane Carey starred for Niall Moyna’s side.

Read more: Dubs see off DCU in 2016 O’Byrne Cup opening round

The outcome of Sunday’s clash certainly is not a foregone conclusion with Jim Gavin’s absence perhaps being a key factor; the Round Towers clubman is in Barbados with the panel. Paul Clarke has been named as interim manager for Dublin’s O’Byrne cup campaign.

DCU may also treat this game as a chance to experiment with a weakened Dublin side, offering potential for Moyna to trial tactics and players against the All-Ireland champions. The students will likely look ahead to the clash with UCD on January 15th as more important to their Sigerson Cup preparations.

The Students will look to avenge their miserable defeat at the hands of rivals UCD in last year’s Sigerson Cup final as they step up their preparations for the 2017 campaign and Niall Moyna will be fully aware that a strong performance against this more inexperienced and experimental Dublin side is crucial to doing just that.

Dublin Panel: 1. Evan Comerford, 2. Jack Smith, 3. Eoin O’Brien, 4. Ross McGowan, 5. Niall Scully, 6. Ciarán Reddin, 7. Brian Howard, 8. Jason Whelan, 9. Ryan Deegan, 10. Gary Sweeney, 11. Shane Boland, 12. Niall Walsh, 13. Paul Hudson, 14. Michael Deegan, 15. Conor McHugh, 16. JB Carthy, 17. Robbie Gaughan, 18. Tom Shields, 19. Ross O’Brien, 20. Gavin Ivory, 21. Shane Cunningham, 22. Seán Newcombe, 23. Ross Hazley, 24. Maitias Mac Donncha.

Gavin Quinn

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