Testing times for Fingal's young stars
It's a big week for some of Fingal's rising young stars with two important games taking place in Leinster over the course of the next few days.
Taking centre stage will be the the Minor provincial decider between Dublin and Kildare in Navan at 2pm this Saturday in what will be the curtain raiser to one of the round four qualifiers that day.
The two teams last met in the last four of the competition two years ago when a couple of late scores from Naomh Mearnog's Sean Hawkshaw saw Dublin prevail on a 1-16 to 0-14 scoreline.
Dublin went on to defeat Louth in the decider but after a poor enough campaign last year, when they failed to come out of the group, the metropolitans have regrouped under manager Jim Lehane.
It's been a campaign where Dublin have had to dig in deep, particularly in the semi-final where they trailed Westmeath in Cusack Park by five points with twenty five minutes to go. However, the introduction of Ross Keogh would have a galvanising effect for Dublin after the midlanders had a good job putting the shackles on Sean Kinsella (Fingal Ravens) and a number of Dublin forwards.
However, the Sylvesters star would fire over three points in quick succession as Dublin prevailed by a four point margin.
Another player who brings plenty of form into the final, a repeat of the 2014 decider, is Alex Rogers from the Clann Mhuire club. Rogers follows in the footsteps of older brother Adam, who played under Dessie Farrell in 2012.
And Alex, having started the campaign against Meath at wing forward prior to picking up an injury, has returned to form a formidable partnership up front with dual player Luke Swan.
Rogers, having come through the Clann Mhuire under age teams, has emerged as a forward of some repute having kicked four points in both of Dublin's two last games against Wicklow and Westmeath.
Others to have got in on the scoring act have been Kinsella, who found the back of the net in Dublin's opener against Meath while Naomh Mearnog defenders Conor Archer and Callum Monaghan (Fingal Ravens) have also made good contributions.
Kildare, for their part, had three points to spare over Laois in the other semi-final where Eoin Bagnall pitched in with a generous total of eight points. Nonetheless, the Lillywhites, having kicked ten first half wides, will need to bring their shooting boots with them if they are to go better than last year when they lost out to Meath.
Meanwhile, the Dublin under 20s kick off their provincial campaign away to Longford in tonight's Leinster quarter final in Glennon Brothers Pearse Park (throw in 7.30pm) where all eyes are likely to be on St Maurs scoring sensation Ciaran Archer.
Archer has been Dublin's go to man in their John Kerins Cup campaign and club manager Cathal Sweetman has been impressed by Archer's dedication.
"He played with the Dublin under-20s down in Limerick a few weeks back but still made the time to drive himself back for the latter stages our game later on in the evening," said Sweetman.
And he believes that Longford will have their hands full containing Archer on the day: "He's their go to man and the strategy seems to be get the ball into him as soon as possible."
Likely to feature with Archer are Donabate defender Darren Maher, who featured on the Leinster minor winning team from 2017, while the versatile Jack Hussey from Round Towers Lusk is also included in Tom Grey's squad.
But, for all their quality, Dublin will not need reminding about the 2013 meeting between the two sides when Longford upstaged a Dublin side that included Paul Mannion and Ciaran Kilkenny.