DUBLIN are largely taking a step into the unknown when they face Cork in their Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Football Championship quarter-final in Thurles later this afternoon (2.00).
The Dubs may finished their provincial campaign on a high, recording a ten point win over Kildare in the Leinster Final a fortnight ago but tougher challenges await them, starting with the beaten Munster finalists today.
Despite losing to Kerry in that provincial decider, Cork derived many positives from that display and that they pushed the favourites for national honours so close in that 2-17 to 2-13 defeat will have aided their confidence.
That display was a marked improvement on their ponderous provincial semi-final performance, a contest in which they struggled for large parts before finally overcoming a stubborn Waterford challenge by 1-14 to 1-8.
Cork's attack looks their strongest suit, boasting forwards of the calibre of Michael Hurley, Shane Kingston and Gary Murphy and they represent a step up in class to what the Dublin defence have encountered to date.
That defence recovered well from a tricky opening quarter against Kildare, where their alignment struggled to cope with the movement of the Lilies' attack but they coped sufficiently well from that point with Aodhán Fee's display at wing-back a positive on the day.
Further up the field, Eoghan McHugh and Andrew Foley will look to build on their impressive showings at centrefield where they have largely dominated their direct opponents in the aerial exchanges.
Such supremacy is unlikely against a powerful Cork pairing of Brian Coakley and Micheal Ó Deasúna but if they manage to gain a foothold there initially, it could go a long way to deciding the tie in Dublin's favour.
Despite goals from Aaron Byrne and Colm Basquel against Kildare, the concern still exists of an over reliance on Con O'Callaghan (pictured left) for scores with the dual player's 1-6 in the Leinster Final highlighting his influence on the team.
Cork will undoubtedly have a plan in place to curb Dublin's captain but if they over-compensate in that regard, the likes of Byrne and Chris Sallier possess sufficient threat to take advantage of the wide parameters of Semple Stadium.
Both sides appear committed to an expansive game and consequently, the match could become a shoot-out between two vibrant forward lines.
If O'Callaghan can respond positively from the disappointment of the hurlers' defeat to Waterford eight days ago, he could prove instrumental in Dublin posting a winning tally.
DUBLIN: Eiven Whelan (Trinity Gaels); Cian Murphy (Thomas Davis), Jack Mullins(St Brigid's), Eoin Murchan (Na Fianna); Aodhán Fee (Nh Mearnóg), Shane Clayton (Ballyboden St Enda's), Glen O'Reilly (Na Fianna); Andrew Foley (Clontarf), Eoghan McHugh (Na Fianna); Warren Egan (Ballyboden St Enda's), Colm Basquel (Ballyboden St Enda's), Jack Burke (Nh Maur); Aaron Byrne (Na Fianna), Con O'Callaghan (Cuala), Chris Sallier (Thomas Davis).
CORK: Anthony Kidney (Passage West); John Mullins (Eire Óg), Kevin Flahive (Douglas), Sean Powter (Douglas); Sean O'Donoghue (Inniscarra), Cian Kiely (Ballincollig), Maidhc Ó Duinnín (Naomh Abán); Brian Coakley (Carrigaline), Michael Ó Deasúna (Cill na Martra); Gary Murphy (Castletownbere), Daniel Ó Duinnín (Cill na Martra), David Lowney (Clonakilty); Seamus Ronayne (Clyda Rovers), Shane Kingston (Douglas), Michael Hurley (Castlehaven)