Given how things panned out for Dublin last August, reading too much into what happens in June or July, let alone January, is probably a fool’s errand.
All those double digit Championship match wins counted for little when Donegal asked the most probing of questions in the All-Ireland semi-final.
Still, on the first weekend of the new year, Dublin boss Gavin couldn’t have asked for much more; the anticipated win, some flashes of excellence from established stars and plenty of enthusiasm from would-be regulars.
Eoghan O’Gara was up there with the best of them, palming in a third-minute goal that put Dublin on the road to a comfortable O’Byrne Cup opening day win.
With the game in the bag from an early stage, Gavin took off all his established players and left it to his young guns to fend for themselves.
It worked well, and the sight of players like Diarmuid McLoughlin and Craig Dunleavy pressing Maynooth’s defence was promising.
McLoughlin scored a nice point having already played against Dublin in the New Year’s Day Dubs Stars challenge and scoring 1-4.
Ian Kavanagh, Stuart Lowndes and Alan McCarrick also came on while Eoin Culligan and former minor star John Small performed well at full and centre-back.
Gavin promised to keep playing his rookies ahead of Wednesday’s Round 2 group game with Offaly and their final group game against Laois.
“We would hope over the next two hours of football, we’ll give those guys we saw this afternoon more game time,” said Gavin.
“We’ve seen them playing club football and that’s why they’re here. It’s a matter of picking the right opportunity to give them a fair chance to express their talents.”
O’Gara finished with 1-3, one more than Dean Rock, who should have helped himself to more. In an intriguing first-half, Rock took 11 shots, four of which resulted in points, six went wide and one hit the post. He also set up O’Gara for his goal and added a fifth point in the second half. Dublin were full value for their 1-7 to 0-3 half-time lead. The only downside was Fitzsimons’ difficulty on rising Meath star Barry Dardis. The Meath U21 netted in the 42nd minute after beating Fitzsimons to a high ball. The goal left just four in it but Dublin pulled clear late on even with all the changes. Carthy hit a great point from distance while Ballyboden’s McLaughlin closed out the scoring.
Scorers for Dublin: E O’Gara (1-3), D Rock (0-5, 3fs), E O Conghaile, T Brady, S Carthy and D McLoughlin (0-1 each) .
Scorers for Maynooth University: B Dardis (1-2), N Walsh (1f), B Duggan and R Kennedy (0-1 each).
DUBLIN: L Molloy; M Fitzsimons, E Culligan, D Daly; N Devereux, J Small, G Hannigan; D Bastick, E O’Conghaile; T Brady, D Rock, S Carthy; N Collins, E O’Gara, H Dawson.
Subs: N Scully for Bastick (40), I Kavanagh for Fitzsimons (50), D McLaughlin for Rock (59), S Lowndes for Brady (59), A McCarrick for Daly (61), C Dunleavy for O’Gara (64).
MAYNOOTH UNIVERSITY: G Brody; C Carton, D Hyland, N Lenihan; E Lowndes, S McElroy, F Flanagan; G Hannigan, P Faulkner; J Gonoud, N Walsh, D Duke; B Duggan, R Kennedy, B Dardis.
Subs: K Mulhall for McElroy (h/t), P Lynch for Kennedy (52), T Gibbons for Duke (57), M McCarville for Duggan (64), R McEnaney for Carton (68), L Barrett for Dardis (72).
Referee: S Murphy (Louth).