The Pat Gilroy era for Dublin hurling gets underway this weekend in Boston at the AIG Fenway Classic. We look at the key questions surrounding the team as they begin to prepare for 2018.
Will the returning party hit the ground running?
Danny Sutcliffe was the standout name when the squad for Sunday’s Fenway Classic was named yesterday. More of those with Leinster medals from 2013 who did not feature under Ger Cunningham are expected to also return in the New Year.
The question is whether they can hit the ground running this year, and pick up from where they left off. There is no doubting the ability of the likes of Sutcliffe, but will the time away from the sport’s top level have a negative impact?
Just how important will the Pat Gilroy effect prove to be?
This is the question on everyone’s lips. The 2011 All-Ireland winning football manager is well respected in GAA circles, and has made some impressive moves so far, with the acquisitions of Anthony Cunningham and Danny Sutcliffe.
However, obviously questions arise surrounding his lack of hurling experience at the top level. It remains to be seen whether these concerns are founded.
Will youth prosper over the next year?
While the Ger Cunningham era will be remembered as a backward step, the Corkonian must be credited with bringing through a host of youth in recent years. Eoghan O’Donnell, Chris Crummey, Fergal Whitely and many more broke into the squad under Cunningham’s watch, and are likely to play integral parts in 2018.
The challenge now is to push on and take the Dubs to the next level.
Just how quickly can they bounce back?
It is perhaps fair to suggest that the Dubs won’t sink much lower than 2017. Relegation from Division 1A and a combined 36-point losing margin in games to Galway and Tipperary left them far off the top table.
However, there is a major gulf in class once again below Dublin to the likes of Laois and Offaly, given that the Boys in Blue beat the O’Moore County by 16 points last summer.
With underage Leinster titles still frequent, young talent continues to stream through. Can Gilroy bring immediate success? Or are they facing a longer process to become competitive once again?
What will we learn this weekend?
The Dubs are heading across the pond to take on Galway in the AIG Fenway Classic, and will face Tipperary or Clare should they overcome the All-Ireland champions.
We have seen the squad announced yesterday, and it offers a major opportunity to those included, considering the absence of the Cuala contingent among others.