Dubs deny Nixon cold shoulder

DUBLIN manager Pat Gilroy has denied the allegation that he threatened to axe four young footballers from the county squad for this weekend’s NFL game against Mayo if they attended an AFL trial camp in Meath earlier this week.

Rory O’Carroll, James McCarthy, Paddy Andrews and Cian O’Sullivan all failed to take up invitations to Ricky Nixon’s get-together in Gormanston College and a source at the camp pointed the finger of blame at Gilroy.

“Nobody asked me if they could go to any camp,” said the St Vincent’s clubman. “I’ve no problem with it. If a fella wants to go to a camp, he can go to a camp. If a fella wants to give that game a go, it’s really none of my business.

“If they didn’t go, it’s nothing to do with me, unless one of the selectors said something, but I doubt it. It’s totally their own concern. It’s their private business. It’s nothing to do with Dublin.

“I have nothing to do with that man (Nixon). I’m quite glad that he has his business to do and I have my business to do. It’s nothing to do with me. It would be like if they were going for a job. It’s their professional career. I couldn’t tell a fella not to go for an interview for a job.”

Gilroy did admit he would not have selected any player who attended the camp for this weekend’s game on the grounds that they would not be sufficiently rested but he denied it would have jeopardised their long-term prospects.

“We just wouldn’t include them in the team for this weekend,” he pointed out, “but that is the same for club and college games and (rest) is what we have asked fellas who are in the starting 15 to do.”

As it is, O’Sullivan has been named at centre-back for Sunday’s trip to Castlebar while Andrews will start on the bench. McCarthy and O’Carroll are two of four seniors who will be in championship action with the U21s the day before.

The list of casualties with which Gilroy is still operating without is just one short of double figures right now and it includes stellar names like Alan Brogan, Barry Cahill, Conal Keaney and Brian Cullen. Between injuries, U21 duties and the recently-concluded Sigerson Cup, Gilroy has been unable to play with anything like a full hand so far this year and four or five of this week’s starting team will face late fitness tests.

It is a scenario that has infuriated many a inter-county manager, some of whom have railed against the plethora of competitions and grades demanding players’ attentions, but Gilroy is philosophical about it all.

“The guys themselves don’t seem to mind it. They want to play games. You might take the extreme case of somebody like Rory O’Carroll who plays football and hurling, U21 hurling and football, club, county, Fitzgibbon and Sigerson.

“He just has so many teams but he’s probably unique. You’re conscious as a manager that you’re not asking him to do a whole pile of training but he’s happy with that. He enjoys it. You can overplay those things and get overly concerned.”

There is still much to demand the attention in this Dublin panel, not least former Ipswich Town goalkeeper Shane Supple who has been drafted in as sub-goalkeeper this week die to injury to Michael Savage.

Another focal point for the Leinster champions so far in 2010 has been midfielder Eamon Fennell whose three-year battle to switch clubs has garnered as many headlines as his displays on the pitch.

Gilroy’s predecessor, Paul Caffrey, described Fennell recently as the next Ciaran Whelan but the current manager believes his player will be more concerned with beating the likes of Darren Magee in the race for a jersey.

“I don’t think you can look at any individual and say he is a direct replacement for any other guy. They are very different players. Eamon is going along grand at the minute and we will be happy if he keeps that going.”

Gilroy is somewhat surprised to find himself managing a team that sits atop the Division One league table after two wins from two and it will say something if they retain that perch after the weekend’s tie away to Mayo.

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