Dublin star James McCarthy ready for ‘brash’ Kerry tyros

Experienced Dublin defender James McCarthy has little interest in giving Kerry’s rising stars any grounds for optimism next weekend.

James McCarthy and Danny Sutcliffe at the announcement of Ballygowan and Energise Sport's renewal as Dublin GAA's hydration partners.

Former minors David Clifford and Sean O’Shea, along with a number of their former underage colleagues, are expected to feature in Sunday’s glamour Allianz League tie at Croke Park.

Dublin haven’t lost a league or championship game since they last faced Kerry in last year’s final and the All-Ireland holders are expected to push hard for revenge.

A win would also leave them on the brink of a final place, their sixth in a row, while the game may be seen as a useful opportunity to crush the spirit of those young Kerry players.

“There’s an element of that, I suppose,” said McCarthy. “They’re young, they’re brash, they’re going to be coming up and they want to take you on. The few clips I’ve seen, they look very good players and they physically seem ready for it. Sean O’Shea, David Clifford, they’re big lads at 6ft 1, 6ft 2, so it’s a good challenge and a good barometer for the year of where both teams are. Both teams will go at it hard on Sunday.

“Thankfully we won the All-Ireland afterwards last year but the league final was a nice little reminder of what Kerry can do to you and how dangerous a team they always are.

“Just look at their forward line, there’s so much scoring threat there. We’ll have to be on our toes. Obviously the two boys seem to be doing really well and Michael Burns. These are the new guys, we know about them but we haven’t come across them before so we’ll have to get ready for them.”

Dublin are looking at a number of new players themselves. A whopping 52 players have been handed game time so far this year though that figure is swelled by the development panel that was used for January’s O’Byrne Cup.

One of the players used in that competition, Brian Howard, has been an ever present during the league so far and is shaping up as their big find of 2018, much like Niall Scully who emerged from the 2017 O’Byrne Cup panel to start 16 of Dublin’s 19 competitive games last year.

“He has all the talent in the world,” McCarthy said of Howard at the announcement that Ballygowan and Energise Sport have renewed their partnership with Dublin GAA as official hydration partners.

“The biggest compliment I could give of Brian is to say how hard he works and how much he wants it. He’s playing great stuff at the moment. He definitely has the attitude, if he keeps going the way he is there’s no reason he won’t be there (in the summer).

“He’s another brainy footballer, high skill level. He knows what he’s doing and he’s well able to look after himself too. He’s doing well.”

Meanwhile, Liam Rushe is expected to be fit for Dublin’s Allianz Hurling League clash with Laois on Sunday. He was taken off with a chest problem in their Round 4 defeat to Galway, a result that has left them needing to beat Laois to avoid a relegation play-off.

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