Dubs can add to Rebel woes

Rnn MacLochlainn

With last month's Leinster final win a pleasing but distant memory, Dublin will embark on their quest for a first National title since 1984 when they face last year's beaten finalists Cork in the All-Ireland Minor Football Championship quarter-final in Portlaoise this afternoon (throw-in 4.0).

Both sides were highlighted as potential champions in early spring but Cork's surprise eight-point defeat at the hands of Tipperary in the Munster final has led to a review of their credentials, with five changes in personnel reflecting their difficulties on the day.


Conor Dorman replaces Kevin Fulignati at full-back while both Killian O'Hanlon and Killian McIntyre are positioned in the half-back line after the Tipperary half-forwards over-powered their direct opponents in Killarney.

There is also a new midfield pairing of Kevin Kavanagh and Mark Sugrue, who will hope to generate sufficient possession to supply a forward line that has generally failed to impress, with the notable exception of team captain Dan MacEoin, who has registered 2-13 in Cork's three games to date.

Whether MacEoin is given ample opportunities to weave his magic will depend on Dublin's ability to match Cork in the physical stakes, with the Rebels powering to an emphatic win over the Dubs in a challenge match at Easter.

Dublin have unquestionably improved as the year has progressed but none of their four opponents in their successful provincial campaign offered anywhere close to the physical challenge that Cork will present.

Consequently, Patrick O'Higgins will need to continue his quiet but effective accumulation of possession and it is likely Dublin will swarm the middle third, with Gavin Ivory and David Campbell expected to lend a hand in this crucial sector.

Dublin's strengths to date have focused on their ability to register decent scoring tallies, with all six forwards making valuable contributions over the summer, and they have a decided edge of their less prolific opponents in that regard.


Another feature of Dublin's performances has been their ability to end the first-half on a high and continue in a similar vein after the break, with both Kildare and Meath's respective challenges being ended either side of the interval as Dublin blitzed their opponents with a raft of scores.

It is highly unlikely that Cork will allow this to happen but their limitations were exposed in the Munster final when they managed just two points in the second-half, whereas, in contrast, Dublin have shown few weaknesses to date and are expected to continue their upward curve of progression by clinching a semi-final berth.

Verdict: Dublin

DUBLIN: R O'Hanlon; G Hannigan, R McDaid, R Real; E Lowndes, J Small, J McCaffrey; P O'Higgins, E Ó Conghaile; G Ivory, D Campbell, C Costello; S Fulham, C Kilkenny, P Mannion.

Cork: J McDonnell; J Davis, C Dorman, S Cronin; K O'Hanlon, B O'Driscoll, K McIntyre; K Kavanagh, M Sugrue; C Vaughan, A Cadogan, C O'Sullivan; D McEoin, S O'Mahony, D Harrington.