O'Brien and Gough to start for Dublin

O'Brien and Gough to start for Dublin

Defenders Maurice O'Brien and Oisin Gough will start for Dublin in tomorrow's Leinster SHC quarter-final against Offaly at Croke Park (throw-in 2pm).

First choice full-back Tomas Brady, who is nursing a knee injury, and centre-back Joey Boland (shoulder) have been ruled out for the Dubs' Championship opener.

O'Brien and Gough come in as their indirect replacements, with Peter Kelly moving to full-back and team captain John McCaffrey switching across from right half-back to centre-back.

O'Brien was used as a second half substitute in Dublin's Allianz Hurling League Division 1 final win over Kilkenny earlier this month, completing his recovery from an ankle injury.

Liam Rushe and 2009 All-Star Alan McCrabbe are paired together again in midfield, and former Tipperary player Ryan O'Dwyer and the pacy Daire Plunkett provide the spine of the Dublin attack.

Anthony Daly's men had a disappointing exit in last year's Championship, losing to Antrim in a phase 3 qualifier. Back in 2009, they were beaten by Limerick at the quarter-final stage.

Hoping for an improved campaign this summer, midfielder Rushe said: "Last year was a disaster really, the same as the year before against Limerick. We've really let ourselves down in the Championship and we need to produce a good run this year.

"Personally I thought that was a massive opportunity to get past Limerick (in 2009) and get to an All-Ireland semi-final. Really, to be honest, we've been kind of underperforming in the Championship. I think maybe this year we've got the focus right.

"We have learned from the experiences of the past two years and we are maturing. We probably had the calibre of players to do what we're doing now, over the last two years, but we weren't right, we weren't focused, we weren't 100%, we hadn't worked on every aspect of the game.

"This year I think everything's just coming together. We are gaining confidence from that, but it's more of a determination than a confidence - a determination to put the past behind us."

The winners of tomorrow's clash at GAA headquarters will meet either Galway or Westmeath in a June 18 semi-final.

Meanwhile, Offaly have been dealt another injury blow with the confirmation that centre-back Rory Hanniffy will miss the game against Dublin.

A broken bone in his hand has forced Hanniffy's withdrawal from the starting line-up, and manager Joe Dooley will not reveal his replacement until shortly before the throw-in.

Dooley is already without a number of first choice players this weekend. James Rigney, Paul Cleary, David Franks and Joe Brady remain on the injury list, while work commitments keep former captain Brendan Murphy out of action.

Rigney broke his arm for the second time in three months during a recent training session, with Cleary (Achilles tendon), Franks (calf muscle) and Brady, who is recovering from a hip operation, not considered for selection.

DUBLIN (SHC v Offaly): Gary Maguire; Niall Corcoran, Peter Kelly, Oisin Gough; Maurice O’Brien, John McCaffrey (capt), Shane Durkin; Liam Rushe, Alan McCrabbe; Conor McCormack, Ryan O’Dwyer, Conal Keaney; David O’Callaghan, Daire Plunkett, Paul Ryan.

OFFALY: James Dempsey; Michael Verney, David Kenny, Stephen Egan; Dylan Hayden, AN Other, Derek Morkan; Conor Mahon, Derek Molloy; Brian Carroll, Ger Healion, Colin Egan; Shane Dooley (capt), Joe Bergin, Daniel Currams.

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