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Rookies and youngsters - The Dubs who won the O'Byrne Cup final

What was effectively a third-string Dublin outfit still managed to win Leinster’s pre-season competition.

IT REALLY DOESN’T bode well for the rest of Leinster.

Despite operating with what was essentially a third-string team during the Bord na Mona O’Byrne Cup campaign, Dublin still managed to win the competition.

Manager Paul Clarke steered the Dubs to a nine-point victory over Louth in Sunday’s showpiece decider and the other counties in the Eastern province released a collective groan.

This coming summer, Dublin will aim for a seventh successive Leinster title and on all known form and evidence from the last six years, there’s nobody out there to stop them doing it.

And yet it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see any of Dublin’s O’Byrne Cup heroes during the 2017 championship campaign.

Still, they deserve recognition for achieving early-season silverware and here, we run the rule over the players Clarke used against Louth…

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Evan Comerford (Ballymun Kickhams)

Tomas Quinn with Evan Comerford Dublin goalkeeper Evan Comerford (right). Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

From the Stephen Cluxton school of goalkeepers, Ballymun Kickhams star Comerford could yet emerge as the current incumbent’s long-term successor between the sticks for Dublin.

The county’s minor goalkeeper for the past two years, Comerford looks set for a bright career in Sky Blue and should soon make the step-up to the U21 ranks.

Ross McGowan (Kilmacud Crokes)

McGowan won a 2012 All-Ireland minor medal with Dublin before progressing to the U21 ranks, where he won another national title in 2014.

At club level, McGowan is already a seasoned senior campaigner who also captained Kilmacud Crokes to a county U21 A title in 2015.

Eoin O’Brien (Castleknock)

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

O’Brien was a member of the Castleknock team that defied the odds to reach a Dublin senior football championship final last year.

He doesn’t boast an underage history in Dublin colours but can reflect on his O’Byrne Cup campaign with a huge degree of pride.

Jack Smith (Skerries Harps)

Ryan McAnespie with Jack Smith Jack Smith (left) in action during his DCU days. Source: Presseye/Stephen Hamilton/INPHO

Smith was honoured with a DCU player of the year award in 2015 and is a key man for Skerries Harps, along with his brother Eoin.

Jack is the son of Peter Smith, the former Westmeath minor who won a Sigerson Cup medal with UCD in 1985. Jack also won a Sigerson medal, with DCU, in 2015.

Robbie Gaughan (Ballinteer St John’s)

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Gaughan won Leinster and All-Ireland minor medals with Dublin in 2012.

Not content with that, the Ballinteer St John’s clubman added Leinster U21 medals in 2014 and 2015, along with an All-Ireland crown in that grade in 2014.

Ciaran Reddin (St Maur’s)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Reddin captained Dublin to O’Byrne Cup glory and he’s a two-time All-Ireland U21 medallist from 2010 and 2012.

Reddin has made regular pre-season appearances in recent years and led by example in recent weeks.

Conor Mullally (Cuala)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Mullally won a Sigerson Cup medal with UCD last year and he’s also a 2014 All-Ireland U21 medallist with Dublin.

Mullally, a 2012 All-Ireland minor winner, has also been known to party with A-listers in his time:

Jason Whelan (Ballymun Kickhams)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Whelan is a former Allianz League winner with the Dublin seniors who would be a key figure for many other county teams.

A former Dublin SFC winner and All-Ireland finalist with Ballymun Kickhams, Whelan impressed in previous League campaigns but failed to make a summer impact.

Ross Hazley (St Sylvester’s)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Hazley was one of Dublin’s best players during the O’Byrne Cup and could be handed the chance to impress by manager Jim Gavin.

Hazley will be handed a glowing report from stand-in boss Paul Clarke and the St Sylvester’s man is a relation of 1983 All-Ireland medallist Ray.

Niall Scully (Templeogue Synge-Street)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Scully showed his versatility throughout the O’Byrne Cup campaign by starring at wing-back and also in the half-forward line.

He turned in a man-of-the-match display in Sunday’s final victory over Louth and has been name-checked by Clarke as a leading contender for Gavin’s League squad. Scully’s a former minor and U21 All-Ireland medallist.

Shane Boland (Castleknock)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Boland’s another graduate from the 2014 All-Ireland U21 winning crop.

He also played a key role in Castleknock’s march to last year’s Dublin SFC final, and scored a super goal against Skerries Harps at the quarter-final stage.

Niall Walsh (St Oliver Plunkett’s-Eoghan Ruadh)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A 2012 All-Ireland minor medallist, Walsh appeared as a sub in Dublin’s 2014 All-Ireland U21 final win.

Walsh plays his club football alongside the Brogan brothers with St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh.

Conor McHugh (Na Fianna)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

McHugh was the best U21 footballer in the land in 2014 and he was brilliant during the O’Byrne Cup campaign.

Another of the Dublin players who has won All-Ireland medals in the minor and U21 ranks.

Shane Cunningham (Kilmacud Crokes)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Introduced as sub in the 2014 All-Ireland U21 final victory over Roscommon, he was also a used sub in the 2012 All-Ireland minor final.

Bagged a point against Louth on Sunday before being replaced late on by goalscorer Killian O’Gara.

Paul Hudson (Thomas Davis)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

A 2012 All-Ireland U21 medallist, Paul Hudson scored four points against Westmeath in a League game almost two years ago after coming off the bench.

Still a playing member with Thomas Davis, Hudson’s also a coach with Castleknock, and a former dual player in the minor and U21 grades.

Subs used

Emmet O Conghaile (Lucan Sarsfields)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

O Conghaile has already won two All-Ireland SFC medals, four Leinster senior titles, four National League crowns and two All-Ireland U21 medals.

He’s also a former dual Leinster minor championship winner.

Colm Basquel (Ballyboden St Enda’s)

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

2016 was a super year for Basquel, who crowned Ballyboden’s march to AIB All-Ireland senior club glory with an All-Ireland final goal.

He also won a Leinster U21 medal with Dublin and made the bench for the senior final replay victory over Mayo.

Tom Shiels (Castleknock)

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Shiels was named at right half back on the 2016 Dubs Star selection following a stellar season with county SFC finalists Castleknock.

Gary Sweeney (St Sylvester’s)

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Sweeney is another former All-Ireland U21 winner who worked under current senior boss Jim Gavin.

Killian O’Gara (Templeogue Synge-Street)

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

O’Gara came off the bench on Sunday to score a goal against Louth in the O’Byrne Cup decider. He’s the younger brother of established senior player Eoghan.

Sean Newcombe (Lucan Sarsfields)

Newcombe was a fringe player during the O’Byrne Cup campaign and has been a consistent club player for Lucan Sarsfields in recent years.

Ross O’Brien (St Judes)

A member of the St Judes team that dumped a fancied Kilmacud Crokes side out of the Dublin SFC last year.

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