Dublin will be managed in this month’s O’Byrne Cup by Paul Clarke.
In the absence of manager Jim Gavin, who is on the Dubs team holiday in Cape Town along with his selectors Declan Darcy and Shane O’Hanlon, Clarke will once again fill the gap.
The 1995 All-Ireland winner and former team-mate of Gavin took charge of the Dubs in the Leinster pre-season competition last year and with a team of Under-21 and fringe players won the O’Byrne Cup.
Clarke, whose club is Whitehall Colmcille, was also a Dublin selector under the management of Paul Caffrey in the late 2000s.
The Boys in Blue completed a three in-a-row of Sam Maguire triumphs by beating Mayo by a single point in last September’s final and are taking a well-earned break in South Africa before returning home and getting stuck into the Allianz League campaign at the end of January.
On the sideline with Clarke as they were during the successful 2017 campaign will be Jim Brogan, uncle of Dublin star Bernard and an All-Ireland winner in the seventies, and Bryan Cullen, who is the Dubs’ full-time High Performance Manager and the man who lifted Sam as captain in 2011.
Dublin begin their O’Byrne Cup campaign on Wednesday against Offaly at Parnell Park and then they travel to Enniscorthy to take on Wexford in their second and final game of the three-team group on Sunday.
The county that tops the group will go into the semi-finals along with the three other pool winners.
Offaly hammered Wexford when they met on Saturday so they currently sit atop of Group 1.
The Dubs have won eleven of the last 12 provincial titles, the last few at a canter, and Leinster football’s image took another battering last January when the Boys in Blue eased to the O’Byrne Cup without their manager and any of their established players.
They beat Louth in the final at Drogheda by a comfortable nine points with a team made up of youngsters and a few older heads who hadn’t featured at inter-county level in a few seasons.
Following that O’Byrne Cup win, Jason Whelan, Ciarán Reddin and Colm Basquel all went on to play in the League for Dublin, while Niall Scully and Conor McHugh both featured in the Championship.
Goalkeeper Evan Comerford was back-up to Stephen Cluxton throughout the season.
Basquel, Scully and McHugh are all likely to see more game-time for Dublin in 2018 and Gavin will be hoping that a few more new players emerge in the O’Byrne Cup over the coming weeks.
The Boys in Blue failed in their bid to win a fifth League title on the trot last year, losing in a high-octane final to Kerry at Croke Park, but they did go on to retain their Leinster and All-Ireland crowns.
In 2018 they are bidding to win Sam Maguire for the fourth year on the bounce - something a team from the capital has never done before.