U-21s face battle of nerves against Longford
AS Championship openers go, Dublin's entry into the Cadbury's Leinster U21FC could not have been more straightforward as they ran up a massive 2-28 to 0-3 victory over Carlow last Wednesday night.
Any hopes that the contest would not mirror that of the previous year's edition were quickly dispelled as the Sky Blues seized control from the opening whistle, with the only question at the interval focusing on whether Dublin would exceed their 37-point winning margin of 2013.
As a result, Dublin find themselves in a similar position to 12 months ago when the poverty of the opposition left them still awaiting a true test of their abilities and competitive endeavour, which ultimately mitigated against a positive campaign.
"It was a very difficult draw for Carlow and I think their display on Wednesday showed that," said Dublin manager Dessie Farrell. "After what happened last year, it was perhaps inevitable that some players couldn't commit 100 per cent to the cause after the negative experience that they endured last year.
"We still had to go out there and do a job and I thought the lads performed reasonably well. It's great to get up and running and, irrespective of the opposition, it's important to get our campaign going as we move on to our next challenge," he said.
That challenge will come from Longford in eight days' time, with memories still fresh from last year's defeat at Parnell Park and Ciarán Kilkenny's devastating ACL injury suffered against Kildare on Saturday evening will leave Dublin short of their attacking talisman.
The performance produced from Dublin on that filthy evening in Donnycarney highlighted how they lacked the battle-hardened qualities of their opponents and the concern exists that that could, once again, prove a critical factor on Wednesday week.
The Midlanders received the perfect test last week when requiring extra-time to eventually overcome Laois in Portlaoise and last year's experiences should ensure they hold little fear of Farrell's highly-regarded panel.
"Longford will have benefited an awful lot from that win over Laois and, when you consider that they also required a replay to get over Westmeath in the first round, those three games should be hugely beneficial to them.
"Momentum is very hard to generate in this competition and, with nine or 10 players available to them from last year as well, they are generating a nice bit of momentum and, of course, they have some very nice footballers," said the Na Fianna clubman.
Given the threat that Longford possess, it is imperative Dublin can create some momentum of their own and the introduction of some relative new faces has helped refresh the panel. One of those who certainly seized his opportunity was Michael Deegan, with last year's minor helping himself to 1-6 in an impressive display from full-forward.
"It was good for guys to get some game-time experience, especially those that are relatively new to the scene and Michael impressed us all on Wednesday night.
"He is one of our younger lads and a very talented footballer. We have impressed on him the need to maintain a high work-rate and we were delighted with the application that we witnessed from him," said Farrell.