DUBLIN manager Dessie Farrell expects his side to be pushed all the way when they face Longford in their Cadbury Leinster U-21 Football Championship semi-final in Portlaoise tomorrow evening (7.30).
The Dubs strolled to a facile 31-point win over Carlow last Wednesday week.
But their opponents this time around have the benefit of three competitive matches en route to the last four, a massive advantage according to the Na Fianna clubman.
"They will be battle-hardened after coming through those tight matches and the replay win over Westmeath and extra-time win over Laois should bring them on a lot.
"We are acutely aware of their abilities, having lost to them last year and we would be familiar with Longford down the years having played them regularly at minor level," said Farrell.
"They have plenty of fine footballers and are a very cohesive unit. Jack Sheedy has done a very good job down there and, of course, they will take a lot of confidence into the game after beating us in our own back yard last year."
Of course, Dublin's cause has not been helped by the cruciate injury suffered by Ciarán Kilkenny 10 days ago which has ruled him out for the whole campaign.
Nonetheless, while acknowledging the loss to his panel, Farrell remains philosophical ahead of tomorrow night's clash.
"Of course, Ciarán's injury is a big blow for us. He is a great player and he was earmarked as the fulcrum to our attack.
"Sadly, that's sport and injuries unfortunately do happen.
"We just have to get on with it and plan without his contribution on the pitch.
"However, he is still with us in the panel, helping out and we will benefit from the attributes that he offers off the field of play.
"It will also offer a great opportunity for another player to come into the side and we'd be hopeful that Ciarán's injury won't have too much of an influence on our preparations," he said.
What has benefitted Dublin this year, in contrast to last year's truncated campaign, has been the rest afforded to Farrell's senior panellists.
The likes of Eric Lowndes, Shane Carthy, Cormac Costello and Jack McCaffrey were all rested for Sunday's senior League match in Derry and that can only prove beneficial for Dublin's chances tomorrow night.
"Last year, we fell victim of the scheduling, having to play in midweek after a lot of the lads had played National League the previous weekend.
"I don't think that helped our chances.
"Rest and recovery is hugely important in the modern game and it is good to have the lads focused on our game alone.
"We are really looking forward to the match and the game can't come quick enough as far as I'm concerned."