Manager Dessie Farrell retained just three starters from last year’s All-Ireland semi-final defeat to Tipperary — goalkeeper Lorcan Molloy, Martin Cahilane and Andy Foley— for tonight’s championship opener against Meath.
Murchan, an ever present in last year’s successful Leinster campaign, hasn’t made the team and as if to underline the theme of new beginnings, Darragh Spillane, nephew of Kerry great Pat, is a novel inclusion.
Cuala club man Spillane, son of Mick, a seven-time All-Ireland medallist with Kerry, is at left half-back for the Parnell Park encounter. There is also a start for another son of a legendary figure, Michael Deegan, son of Dubs great Mick, who is named at centre- forward despite playing his club football in Meath with Donaghmore-Ashbourne.
Deegan has already started for the Dublin seniors this year, in the O’Byrne Cup, as has Con O’Callaghan, who is included at full-forward. “We lost a good lot of players last year,” said Murchan. “So it’s completely new, a clean slate with this team pretty much. But it’s a good strong team. We have a good few quality lads coming up from minor so we’re hoping to do something.”
Murchan suggests it could be a good thing the majority aren’t already senior stars or recognisable figures.
“Con is involved, he’d be with the seniors but generally there’s very few which is good for us in a way,” he said. “Last year we would have had seven or so with the seniors and we’d have been missing a lot of players a lot of the year. This year, there’s a good core group and we’ve been able to gel and bond because we’re always together. So yeah, there wouldn’t be any big name players but we’re more of a group that doesn’t rely on individuals.”
The winners play Laois or Wicklow who meet in Portlaoise. Kildare, beaten Leinster finalists last year, open against Offaly for the third consecutive season with both winning once. If Kildare can progress, like they did in 2015, they play Wexford or Westmeath who face off this evening.
Lorcan Molloy; David Bolger, Martin Cahilan, Eoin Smith; Glenn O’Reilly, Sean McMahon, Darragh Spillane; Andy Foley, Killian Deeley; Tom Lahiff, Michael Deegan, Cillian O’Shea; Dara Mullin, Con O’Callaghan, Aaron Byrne.