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Dublin young guns can start double header off in positive style against Donegal

A decider against Kerry in three weeks time is the prize as Dublin and Donegal contest their Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Football Championship semi-final in Croke Park tomorrow afternoon (1.30).

Both sides have shown a large degree of improvement as their respective campaigns have progressed with a tight encounter anticipated between these well-matched teams.

Donegal will enter the contest buoyed by a dominant provincial run that saw a fancied Derry side eclipsed in the opening round and manager Declan Bonner has developed the team further from that impressive victory back in May.

His side have followed that Derry win with successive wins over Antrim and Armagh before Roscommon were despatched in the last eight after a tense, low-scoring affair.

Having only let in 1-5 in that win over Roscommon, it is of little surprise that the 1992 All-Ireland winner has focussed his energies on defence, with his side only conceding 2-33 in four matches but there is plenty of talent found in their attack, as highlighted by the presence of Jamie Brennan and Stephen McBrearty.

How Dublin cope with the tactics adopted by their opponents will prove instructive and much will depend on the ability of Andrew Foley and Eoghan McHugh to garner primary possession in the middle third.

STRUGGLED

Despite overcoming Cork in Thurles four weeks ago, Dublin struggled in the opening quarter to secure possession yet they still led by half-time thanks to the predatory instincts of Chris Sallier and the continued excellence of captain Con O'Callaghan.

Dublin can ill-afford a similarly lax opening tomorrow as scoring opportunities may prove thinner on the ground against the highly efficient Ulster champions.

The Dubs may also seek a greater return from their attacking unit with three of their starting forwards against Cork held scoreless and the suspected return to the starting 15 of the versatile Conor Kavanagh should help in that regard.

Another potential match-winner for Dublin is Colm Basquel, with the centre-forward likely to revel in the wide open spaces of Croke Park and his calmness in possession could prove pivotal if Dublin are to break down a heavily-numbered Donegal defence.

One area that remains a slight concern from a Dublin perspective is their lack of a consistent middle-distance free-taker and they will need to ensure that the placed ball chances that come their way are converted at a sufficiently high ratio.

Whether the Leinster champions enjoy an advantage over their opponents having played their provincial decider against Kildare in Croker last month is questionable but it cannot do their composure any harm to have played in a similar environment.

Neither side will lack for confidence in what should be an intriguing clash but Dublin's upward curve of progress should see them prevail by a narrow margin.

Verdict: DUBLIN

ALL-IRELAND mFC SEMI-FINALDUBLIN v DONEGAL

TOMORROW, CROKE PARK (1.30)


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