Davis’s faith in homegrown youth

by James Hendicott

A young Thomas Davis side are raring to get stuck into this season’s AFL1, with the expectation of once again building on a young side by blooding players that have been around the Dublin development squads, and targeting a strong start.

Senior football manager Paul Kelly told the Dublin Gazette he believes his side are well prepared for the trials of Dublin’s competitive top tier, having had an extended break since late August.

And that while the Tallaght club have struggled to draw in the same influx of out-of-county players as some of their rivals, they have plenty to offer.

“The quality in Division One of the Dublin league speaks for itself,” Kelly told us ahead of the opening game.

“The quality standard overall is fantastic and, as Skerries Harps going down last year showed, there really are no easy games. The top teams in the league could probably play at Divisions 3 or Division 4 of the National League. It’s usually a very tight margin between finishing in the top six and being at risk of relegation.”

Thomas Davis started extremely strong last time around, sitting in the top four of AFL1 into June before fading due to problems around young players that would be familiar to plenty of clubs.

“We have a young panel, and we lost a few players to the States over the summer, so we really struggled with the last seven or eight games,” Kelly recalls. “We don’t have quite the draw of players from outside of Dublin that some other clubs in the area have, which is surprising given our facilities.

“In the 80s and 90s, we had a lot of players from outside Dublin joining us, but now we’re almost entirely local.

“But we have a great juvenile section that’s producing a lot of young players,” he explains. “Of our panel of 30, maybe 18 have come through in the last three of four years, and we’ll be adding more from the age groups to that this time around.

“When it comes to playing the biggest Dublin clubs who you actually come up against, a lot is just luck of the draw, who is released from county duty and all that. You never really know what to expect. But we’ve been back since early January and we’re ready.

“We’ve been working away quietly, getting rid of some niggly injuries and taking a bit of time out. It’s a long season, especially with the early fixtures brought forward a couple of weeks, but with the addition of two or three minors and under-18s to the panel, we should be strong.”

Thomas Davis get their AFL 1 campaign underway with a game against newly promoted Ballinteer Saint John’s at Kiltipper Road, at 10.15am this Sunday morning.

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