JOHN MURPHY'S Dublin will attempt to get their ESB Leinster Minor Hurling Championship campaign back on track with a precarious looking encounter against Carlow in Dr Cullen Park later this afternoon (5.0).
The Dubs were outclassed by Kilkenny two weeks ago so must beat the Barrowsiders to progress to meet Wexford in the semi-final.
Manager Murphy's hand has not been helped by the forced omissions through injury of key players Robert Hardy and Ciarán Kilkenny and in total there are five changes from the starting 15 that failed to deliver in Nowlan Park. Central to Dublin's travails was the lack of scoring threat over the hour, with three points from play a poor but accurate reflection of their struggles up front, and it is hoped the introduction of Aodhán Clabby, John Hetherton and Na Fianna's Denis Forde will bring an improved vibrancy to the front six.
Midfield should not be weakened too much by the absence of Hardy, with the experienced Emmet McKenna drafted in to partner Naoise Maguire in the engine room as Murphy has made just one change to his defence, with Ben Quinn rewarded for a strong second-half against Kilkenny with the left-half back role at the expense of the unfortunate John Breen.
With a confidence-building 10-point (4-10 to 1-9) victory over Kildare already behind them, Carlow will enter the game with a spring in their step and there was much to admire in the manner of their victory over the Lilywhites.
Brian Treacy has continued to develop as a fine goalkeeper and his lengthy puck-outs will look to pile the pressure on Dublin's half-back line.
Ahead of Treacy, David Galway and Gary Bennett alongside team captain Laurence Kinsella impressed with their defensive solidity against Kildare.
Maguire and McKenna will have their hands full dealing with Carlow's midfield duo of John Doyle and John Corcoran, with Doyle well capable of punishing any Dublin ill-discipline with his accuracy from placed balls.
Up front, Carlow will look to repeat their scoring exploits of a fortnight ago with Daryl Roberts, Ross Smithers and Paul Coady a lively trio in attack but they won't have it easy against a Dublin full-back line which defended stoutly against Kilkenny for the large part.
While the venue of Dr Cullen Park should offer Carlow a slight advantage, Dublin will need their more experienced performers, such as Cillian Moffat, Gareth Cronin and Danny Sutcliffe, to guide their side through this potential minefield and they should have enough quality to do so and prevail.
DUBLIN (MH v Carlow): E Dillon; C Murphy, G Cronin, S McClelland; C Crummy, C Moffat, B Quinn; N Maguire, E McKenna; G Whelan, D Sutcliffe, A Clabby; D Forde, J Hetherton, D Flood. Subs: C O'Mahony, E Small, J Whelan, M McCaffrey, J Breen, F Heavey, E Ó Conghaile, N Ryan, C Costello, D Mulligan, S Barron, S Burke, A Kehoe, D Kelly, C Ryan.