Only five of the team which started last year’s All-Ireland quarter-final are in Dublin’s starting line-up for this Sunday’s Division 1 NFL clash against Kerry at Fitzgerald Stadium (KO 2.30pm).
Dubs boss Pat Gilroy revealed his selection this morning at a media briefing, with Stephen Cluxton, Paul Griffin, David Henry, Ross McConnell and Paul Flynn, the survivors from that 17-point defeat last August.
Kilmacud Crokes brothers Ross and Rory O’Carroll line out alongside Philly McMahon on the full-back line. Meanwhile Paul Griffin, Cian O’Sullivan and James McCarthy making up the defence.
Gilroy is happy with his defensive formation.
“That defence was probably six of the strongest players in the (club) championship,” he said.
“It was a very hard team to pick because we didn't have much game time with this group - guys away with colleges and various injuries also.”
Gilroy’s hand has been forced due to a number of injuries to key players, with 10 players currently on the injury list.
“You can see by the injury list that we have obviously been forced to play a lot of new people here and we didn't have options,” Gilroy said.
“All-in-all it's a fairly mobile team with good balance given the amount of injuries. The unfortunate part is that they haven't played much together but hopefully it will be different on Sunday.”
Alan Brogan and Barry Cahill will not be available until March as they recover from operations. Ger Brennan and Conal Keaney are out through hamstring strains, but are expected to return to training next week.
Tomas Quinn is still on crutches after fracturing his metatarsal and has another four to six weeks of rehab ahead.
Meanwhile Darren Daly and Derek Murray are awaiting results of MRI scans having both suffered leg injuries in recent games, while an ankle injury has sideline Denis Bastick who is not expected to return to training until the end of this month.
However there is good news for Pat Burke and Darren Magee who are expected to return to training within the next ten days.
Eamon Fennell will partner Ross McConnell at midfield, despite Fennell’s recent club transfer rejection.
Gilroy concedes that he isn’t fully sure what will happen from here – after Fennell’s transfer from O’Toole’s to St. Vincent’s denied.
According to the GAA’s rule-book all players must play club football if they are to line out with a county side.
“As far as I am concerned he is available to us and nobody has told me any different,” Gilroy said.
“I've no idea what is going to happen with him. It's totally out of our hands we just have to see what happens with the process.”
Gilroy added, “We are going to make guys available to play with their clubs. The club leagues don't start for four or five weeks so it is not an issue with us at the moment.”
DUBLIN (SF v Kerry): S Cluxton; Ross O’Carroll, Rory O’Carroll, P McMahon; P Griffin (Capt), C O’Sullivan, J McCarthy; E Fennell, R McConnell; A Hubbard, M McAuley, P Flynn; D Henry, B Kelly, K McManamon.