WHEN it comes to Dublin players, the O’Byrne Cup is the rarest of all – a competition where they don’t top honorably.
Dublin’s nine previous O’Byrne Cup wins put them in third place overall, behind Meath in second with ten titles. Kildare topped the pile with 11.
Today, the Dubs could be on par with the Royals if they beat Laois in this year’s final at Netwatch Cullen Park at 3pm.
And it’s really been a numbers game this season for Dessie Farrell, who has so far used 39 players in three O’Byrne Cup games.
No player has started all three games. Only ten people appear in all of them. Lee Gannon, Darragh Conlon, Tom Lahiff and Aaron Byrne started the two and came on from the bench in another game.
While Shane Carthy, Lorcan O’Dell, Ross McGarry, Warren Egan, David Lacey and Adam Rafter all started one and came on as a substitute in two.
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Farrell has admitted that he is using the O’Byrne Cup to try to achieve two main outcomes – to determine if there is any new talent that is likely to advance and also to gain game time with some demand. his senior core player against the National League .
But which players are likely to make a real step forward this season remains to be seen.
The weekend before the match against Longford saw underrated talent Ciarán Archer come on as a striker. Archer was considered an outstanding talent, but it took a while for him to get his chance.
Gannon – who plays with Whitehall Colmcilles – and Ballymun’s Conlon are forming good potential defenses for Farrell. But in midfield, the big conundrum remains who will partner Brian Fenton.
Shane Carthy has shone in his debut this season, but Peadar Ó Cofaigh Byrne has not featured since his first game against Offaly.
Tom Lahiff is a big, strong player and partnered James McCarthy in midfield against Longford last weekend. And ultimately, McCarthy’s position will determine the debate in Dublin’s midfield.
Dublin could also opt for Fenton and McCarthy in midfield but it’s been interesting to see the two right-backs dominate and experiment in midfield in recent games.
Seán Bugler started two of three games at full-back, and excelled against Offaly as he charged forward, beating 0-4. He scored 0-1 against Longford.
But Niall Scully was equally impressive at full-back in the win over Louth.
The Templeogue man – an All-Star winger in 2020 – was involved in a large chunk of Dublin’s scoring in the first half of that game as Louth struggled to cope with the pace of his work .
It looks like Dublin is actively considering moving a player like Scully or Bugler to full-back.
But Scully said: “I don’t know to be honest. I’d say we need to keep our options open and have a number of players who can play in different positions, so I’d say that’s just where Dessie is looking, if cover is needed. Definitely at full-back, who can play there.
“Seán Bugler also played there in the O’Byrne Cup games and did very well.
“I think back in 2017 it might have been a role I was given in the first place, but it’s clearly something new compared to what I’ve been doing in the last three or four years.”
With Farrell already saying Stephen Cluxton won’t be involved this year, he has played time with Michael Shiel (two starts) and David O’Hanlon (one start) so far at the O’ Byrne Cup.
Evan Comerford is expected to start midway through the league, but Farrell still has to make decisions in many other areas of the pitch – and today will be the last chance for a number of players to stay put. maths.
Scully has played 59 of 66 league and Championship games for Dublin since taking a break from impressing in the 2017 O’Byrne Cup.
He said: “At the start of the O’Byrne Cup 2017, I would never have seen that happen or such an indicator coming.
“But then again, as such, it was an easy transition and I haven’t really looked back since.”
https://www.thesun.ie/sport/gaa-football/8245509/dublin-obyrne-cup-dessie-farrell-title-laois-final/ Dublin targets O’Byrne Cup success as boss Dessie Farrell aims for tenth title against Laois in final