Can Whitehall Forward Cormac Costello finally break into Dublin’s forward line in this year’s Championship
Saturday, May 25th. O’Moore Park. The beginning of what could be an historic summer for Dublin. And it’s what everyone has talked about even long before Jim Gavin’s Senior Football panel even got their hands on their fourth consecutive All Ireland title last year.
Of course the subject has it’s lovers, and equally has it’s haters. And following a inconsistent league campaign it’s maybe got more people talking about whether it will actually come to fruition.
The five in a row is the holy grail. The current Dublin panel are on the verge of history. But every other county involved would love nothing more than to stop them in their tracks. Kerry, Mayo, Tyrone and Galway are all expected to challenge again for Sam Maguire. With Meath’s promotion to the top level in league football, many are expecting them to finally challenge Dublin in the provincial competition.
But for Dublin, and Jim Gavin, they won’t look past Louth at the end of this month. And despite Dublin not retaining the league title, they still scored more than any other team in Division 1. And they are still the favourites to lift Sam Maguire by a long lead.
A Whitehall man waiting in the wings
A big contributor to the League score tally this year was Whitehall Colmcille’s Cormac Costello. And while his name will not be unfamiliar to everyone, it seems Cormac is more determined than to stake his claim on a starting position in this year’s Championship.
The question is what exactly does Costello have to do to put himself right at the top of Jim Gavin’d list when choosing the front six this summer? More occasions than not Cormac has stepped up to the plate and proved his worth. It also seems, fingers crossed, that the years of being plagued by injury are now beyond him.
Cormac Costello fires home to put Dublin into a three point lead.
— eir Sport (@eirSport) February 23, 2019
Against Galway, Kerry and Mayo in this year’s League campaign the 24 year old, which is quite young for a veteran, put in massive attacking performances and registered 1-12 across the three ties. And when he’s come off the bench in recent years in key matches, Costello has never disappointed. You only have to look back to 2016 when his three scores against Mayo in the All Ireland final helped his side to their second consecutive title.
Cormac is not the issue. There’s no doubt that the forward is one of the best in the county, even in the country. But when you come from a county that almost has a production line of forwards, it’s not a case of will he be picked, it’s more a case of who does he displace from the front six?
Unstoppable forces and immovable objects
There are many variables that have to be considered. Who will be there and who won’t be. The six names that finished the championship last year as the starting forward line are all still there, and barring any injuries, there’s no reason why that won’t be the same this year. Niall Scully, Con O’Callaghan, Brian Howard, Paul Mannion, Ciaran Kilkenny and Dean Rock. When you take a step back and look at these names, it’s hard to pick any one of them to leave out. But in other positions in the team some of these could also do a job.
Brian Howard is as versatile as any player in the six, and could play a even bigger role partnering his club mate Brian Fenton in Dublin’s Midfield. This leaves the door open for a gap to be filled. The other thing to consider is what’s left in the tank for some of Dublin older guard. When you look at Cian O’Sullivan, Philly McMahon, Michael Darragh Macauley, Bernard Brogan and Kevin McManamon, you have to wonder what role they will play this year.
Ciaran Kilkenny has orchestrated from half back in the past, and could fill a space should someone like Cian O’Sullivan moves on, but that may not be this year. Also there’s the “will he, won’t he” question that still surrounds Diarmuid Connolly. How long will the door remain open for the St. Vincents star? And if he returns, where again will that leaves Costello in the pecking order.
For now, we know he will join players like Kevin McManamon, Eoghan O’Gara, Bernard Brogan and Paddy Andrews in the supporting cast. It’s also possible he may be joined by players like Sean Bugler and Ryan Basquel.
In a couple week’s time we’ll see the first championship panel announced. There’s no doubt Cormac’s name will be on it. it’s just a question of where.