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'The guys that are there are trying to put themselves in the shop window for Jim Gavin'

Paul Clarke and the experimental Dublin footballers need to beat Wexford by 17 points on Sunday to avoid an early O’Byrne Cup exit.

Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

LAST FEBRUARY, SHORTLY after he signed off on his spell as interim manager of Dublin with an O’Byrne Cup success, Paul Clarke met with Jim Gavin for a debrief.

Clarke provided an individual report on each player who featured during the pre-season for Gavin to consider. Dublin played five O’Byrne Cup games in 2017, giving Clarke plenty of action to mull over.

Unless Dublin can beat Wexford by at least 17 points on Sunday in round 2, Clarke will have a far less comprehensive two-game report to hand Gavin this time around.

With no colleges in the competition this year, Dublin need to top the three-man group featuring Offaly and Wexford to progress into the semi-finals. Offaly’s convincing 3-16 to 0-9 defeat of the Model County in their opening round, means Dublin could finish the group stages unbeaten and still fail to progress.

“It puts a figure on it,” Clarke said after the draw with Faithful on Wednesday night.

“If we had won by a point, we still had to win. If we had lost by a point it still was going to be an important exercise to go down there with a squad of players and put a performance together.

“For the guys that are there at the moment who are trying to put themselves in the shop window for Jim, to go down there and put a figure on it, that’s what it is. And Wexford won’t make it easy and I wouldn’t expect them to so we’ll see how bodies are, see how injuries are, one or two guys maybe coming back available to us, pick a team and give it a go.”

Shane Carthy with Sean Doyle Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

An experimental Wexford outfit looked poor against Offaly, but the opportunity to dump Dublin out of a competition will be motivation enough to keep the score down on Sunday in Enniscorthy.

“We pick our team and the best squad that we have, the best starting 15 and do what you got to do and just let the scoreboard do its job, hopefully ticking over,” added Clarke.

“It’s important to go down and perform, it’s important to go down and get a win, that’s what you want and that’s what you want the players to feel, that they’ve contributed something over the last couple of weeks and they should be proud of it and to go down and get a win would be important to us.”

Clarke confirmed that U21 Footballer of the Year Aaron Byrne is unlikely to feature on Sunday due to a quad strain, while Killian O’Gara will be monitored after sustaining a head injury in the first-half against Offaly.

Gavin and the majority of the All-Ireland winning Dublin squad are in South Africa on a team holiday at the moment and Clarke indicated he would be picking up the phone to discuss the game.

“If he has any sense he’ll be in a nice wine region somewhere having a nice Merlot or something so I’ll probably talk to him (on Thursday).”

The42 has just published its first book, Behind The Lines, a collection of some of the year’s best sports stories. Pick up your copy in Eason’s, or order it here today (€10):

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Kevin O'Brien

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