By Peter McNamara
Dean Rock and Paddy Andrews
Jim Gavin has selected both Dean Rock at corner-forward and Paddy Andrews at full-forward for Dublin’s Allianz NFL Division 1 collision with Monaghan at Croke Park tonight.
While players such as Paul Flynn and Diarmuid Connolly have been pinpointed as vital
components of the defending League and All-Ireland champions’ attack, Rock and Andrews are expected to assert themselves as the main two go-to forwards for Dublin this season.
Seven Dubliners were afforded All-Stars for their contributions last year however, this particular inside forward duo probably feel their efforts deserve greater recognition.
Therefore, both the Ballymun Kickhams’ and St Brigid’s clubmen may have higher personal motivation than in previous campaigns to become the names on the lips of the majority when people speak of Gavin’s outfit.
Andrews fired 1-4 in open play in a man of the match performance against Kerry and even though he did not add to his personal tally afterwards in Castlebar, his link play in itself was a notable positive in attack.
Rock, additionally, has 0-11 (0-7 from frees, 0-1 45) out of Dublin’s 2-23 in two League encounters.
Aside from the excellent James McCarthy, Rock arguably had the most influence for Dublin in their gritty 0-9 to 0-7 triumph over Mayo.
You can envisage Rock becoming even more clinical as the weeks progress too.
How Andrews and Rock dovetail with Cormac Costello tonight will make for interesting viewing.
The balance of that particular line seems spot on for this particular clash.
Can Monaghan deny Dublin at headquarters?
Malachy O’Rourke: “We are looking forward to it but we also know that if you’re not on your game playing Dublin in Croker, they’ll put you to the sword very quickly, so we have to hit the ground running and get up to speed very quickly but if we perform consistently after that, who knows?”
O’Rourke, understandably, is being positive as the Farney Army descends on headquarters.
To be fair to him though, there’s also a lot of realism in his comments.
One fundamental element of stopping Dublin in Croker is to ensure the match is a contest beyond the 20-minute mark.
Often, Jim Gavin’s side can have their opponents essentially at arm’s length by the end of the first half of first halves of matches.
Monaghan began quite slowly in Kiltoom but were more assertive from the get-go against Down.
Anything less than staying within three points or better of their opponents as the clock ticks towards the 21st minute will probably result in another routine triumph for Dublin.
Monaghan isolated Conor McManus to devastating effect in the League semi-final last year as they pushed Gavin’s charges to within one point (0-17 to 0-16).
Yet, it is unlikely the northerners will enjoy the benefits of such a tactic to that degree again tonight.
One massive plus for Monaghan and this is not to take from their technical qualities at all, but Dublin are not too comfortable against sides capable of generating a dogfight.
Seán Cavanagh returns for Tyrone
Mickey Harte has named Seán Cavanagh at full-forward for Tyrone for their trip to Portlaoise tomorrow which will please Tyrone supporters.
If the Red Handers are to earn an expected promotion back to Division 1, having an injury-free Cavanagh will be absolutely vital.
However, others need to continue their development in becoming fellow key members of Tyrone’s attack.
Harte will be conscious that Cavanagh cannot be expected to carry the can for the northerners throughout this League campaign and, of course, in the Championship later on as much as he has needed to do previously.