Dublin boss Dessie Farrell continued to experiment as his team began the 2023 National League campaign in Division Two with a narrow 1-11 to 0-13 win over Kildare under the Croke Park lights on Saturday night.
Farrell has now used 45 players in three competitive games this year so the win was a welcome one for the Dubs as they build towards a real crack at the All-Ireland this summer.
As Dublin fans await the return of Jack McCaffrey, Paul Mannion, James McCarthy, Brian Howard, and Evan Comerford they could take comfort in an impressive outing for fit again Con O’Callaghan and the midfield power of Brian Fenton who grabbed the game’s only goal in the sixth minute.
Naturally, Farrell was asked about the missing players after the win, namely McCaffrey and Mannion.
He told reporters, “Obviously Jack and Paul, there has been a lot spoken about them. But it’s not as straightforward as a lot of Dublin supporters would like to think. Jack has been away for a long time. We just need to be careful with him. Paul has obviously been injured and tied up on club duty. It was good to see him get a run out at Croke Park in the All-Ireland club final. Hopefully, in the coming weeks we will get to see him in a National League game as well.”
Asked about McCarthy, Comerford, and Howard, Farrell added, “I can’t tell you for certain and it’s not necessarily a case that we are resting players, some players are injured.
“And James, for example, is away on his honeymoon. The big thing for us is we just want to be competitive in every game. It’s getting the balance right between introducing new blood and getting fellas who need game time in as well.”
Kildare actually outscored Dublin by six points to two in the final quarter in a game that was highlighted for them by the early return from injury of Kevin Feely after a serious ankle issue.
Kildare boss Glenn Ryan said, “What Kevin Feely has done is remarkable. Between now and the last time he played here last June, he has ruptured his Achilles which is probably one of the worst injuries any sportsman could have. He had an operation on it and has himself back here again. I’d imagine he’s defied all the rules of medicine and science to get himself back here.”
New Meath boss Colm O’Rourke will have enjoyed a 3-14 to 0-19 win over Cork down on Leeside as goals from Shane Walsh, Jordan Morris, and Cillian O’Sullivan made all the difference.
“I’m delighted, particularly for the players who have shown such commitment and enthusiasm for the task. When I came into the job last year I didn’t know what sort of response I’d get and it has been absolutely fantastic. I couldn’t say enough about the players so it’s due reward for them,” said O’Rourke.
“I thought the lads were a bit nervous in the first half. We were lucky to be only two behind at half-time because Cork were in control of the first half.”
Glen players Conor Glass and Ethan Doherty forgot their All-Ireland club final woes as they started in Derry’s 0-16 to 0-4 thumping of Limerick at Owenbeg, while Clare opened their Division Two account with a minimum 0-13 to 1-9 win over Louth in Ennis.