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Farrell: There's still work to do

AS opening defences of provincial titles go, Dublin's comfortable 22-point win over Carlow in the Leinster Minor Football Championship last Saturday evening was as routine as they come.

The Dubs are far from the finished product and Saturday's romp will not have been particularly instructive, a fact highlighted by manager Dessie Farrell as he assessed the evening's fare.


"We're through to the next round, so job done in that respect. It had all the hallmarks of the first round of the championship. We struggled in certain areas and there were a lot of nerves evident -- especially in the first-half -- but we settled into it and eventually wore them down.

"I think the scoreline slightly flattered us and Carlow's heads dropped in the second half and there was only going to be one result by the end of the third quarter.

"We wouldn't have learnt an awful lot. Maybe a couple of small things in relation to positions of certain players but there's still a bit of work to be done and you can never say you've a settled team irrespective of how well you know them.

"It's a particular challenge for the management team trying to get to know the side and how they operate and what makes them tick and we'll have to work hard on that in the coming weeks," added Farrell whose side progress to the provincial quarter-finals on May 19.

While not quite at the level of Kilkenny's capitulation against Offaly, Carlow offered token resistance throughout and their levels of fitness were negatively highlighted as Dublin pressed on for the final 20 minutes, kicking 2-11 and only conceding an injury-time free during that period.

Shane Carthy gave an impressive display at centrefield for the winners while Gavin Burke at wing-forward was the only attacker to regularly break the Carlow shackles in the opening-half with his second-half goal just reward for an enterprising hour from the St Vincent's player.

Despite the emphatic winning margin, there was scant evidence to suggest the Dubs will stroll through the province like they did last year, a view supported by Farrell.

"We're happy with it but I believe that the Leinster Championship is far more evenly balanced this year than it would have been last year.

"There are some very strong teams in contention this year. Kildare looked very powerful in beating Wexford and they've had three or four very good results in challenge games recently.

"Meath are going to be very strong too, as are Offaly. We drew with them in the league when we had a very good side out, so Leinster is going to be very tight this year but we're in the next round and we'll just see who we pull out of the hat."

Taking into account the poverty of the opposition, there were still encouraging signs that Dublin have unearthed another forward of the highest calibre with Na Fianna's Conor McHugh delivering an exceptional hour, hitting 10 points in total from corner-forward in addition to providing a pivotal role in Dublin's two goals.

McHugh was hugely influential in his club's under-21 success last winter but while acknowledging his talent, Farrell was quick to downplay his club-mate's contribution ahead of tougher challenges in the coming weeks.

"Conor had a great game. He's a very talented player. On any given night certain players will feature more heavily than others and that's where you want strength in depth in the various departments of the panel.

"I'd imagine Conor will be well marked the next day and hopefully that will give an opportunity to someone else to step up to the mark and that's the nature of the team game. To be successful, you need certain players chipping in at various stages of the journey," concluded Farrell.