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Gavin hopeful Kilkenny won't be lost to Aussie Rules

MISSION accomplished for Jim Gavin ... now all eyes are on Pat Gilroy to see which members of Dublin's All-Ireland U21 team are fast-tracked for senior promotion in the coming weeks.

Several stars of this highly-rated squad are expected to be called up by Gilroy ahead of their Leinster SFC campaign -- including the prolific Ciarán Kilkenny (pictured), whose latest four-point haul confirmed his status as Cadbury's championship top-scorer with 2-30 (8f).

Beyond this summer, many observers believe Kilkenny is destined for a professional career in Aussie Rules, even though the player insists no decision has been reached pending a three-week trial with Carlton later this year.

"Whatever Ciarán does, it's important he leaves with the sun on his back," said his U21 boss, Gavin. "If he did go, he'd be a massive loss to Gaelic games -- not just in Dublin but for every other county, to be able to see these players play." He added: "Ciarán is a level-headed, very mature young man. He has a good support network around him and, whatever decision he makes, it will be the right one for him."

Without naming names, Gavin reckons Gilroy's senior management team have been looking at "one or two" of his charges and he was sure they could step up to the senior mark.

Gary Sweeney -- a starting survivor from Gavin's earlier All-Ireland winning team of 2010 -- is among those chomping at the bit for senior elevation. "That's the hope," Sweeney admitted. "All I can do is keep playing away, keep trying to improve, and some day -- hopefully -- we'll be on the Hogan Stand lifting the Sam Maguire."

U21 captain Kevin O'Brien revealed similar aspirations. While yesterday's victory over Roscommon was the high point of his career thus far, he added: "I want to push on now and hopefully get a senior call-up in the future, and then push on and win the All-Ireland with them. This isn't the top. I've bigger ambitions."

O'Brien's elation was in marked contrast to Nigel Dineen, although the vanquished Roscommon boss insisted: "I'm still absolutely delighted with the players -- this bunch of lads are magnificent.

"I feel sorry that they haven't met their goal but they'll be back," he added. "There's no doubt that they'll move on and a lot of them will play senior football for Roscommon."