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Dublin captain Chris Crummy lifts the Leinster MFC cup in 2011.  Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Dublin captain Chris Crummy lifts the Leinster MFC cup in 2011. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Dublin captain Chris Crummy lifts the Leinster MFC cup in 2011. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

DUBLIN'S U21 hurlers have stepped their preparations up a notch as they prepare for their championship bow when they face Laois in Parnell Park at the end of the month.

The Dublin panel is littered with players from successive All-Ireland minor final appearances back in 2011 and 2012 but as last year's experience has proven, they cannot afford to look too far ahead.

Twelve months ago, a highly talented Dublin outfit were beaten at home by Carlow and new manager Joe Fortune is insistent that his side are focused purely on their date with destiny on May 28.

"Things have been going well recently but we are focused exclusively on our match with Laois at the end of the month.

"We expect one hell of a battle from them, especially when you take into account the optimism and positivity that is associated with hurling in Laois at the moment.

"By the time we play them, up to six of their players will have experienced three Leinster Senior Hurling Championship games and that kind of competitive action can only do them good," said Fortune.

Despite the relative strength of Laois, Dublin possess their own genuine grounds for optimism, given the quality of the panel at Fortune's disposal.

WEALTH

Granted, two of the central players in Dublin's successive Leinster minor winning teams, Ciarán Kilkenny and Cormac Costello, will not be available but there is still a wealth of talent within the county at this grade.

With Glenn Whelan of Ballinteer St John's nominated as captain and Chris Crummy as the vice-captain, Fortune can call on a large body of players determined to enjoy a more prolonged campaign than experienced 12 months ago.

"The lads are well aware that there is no second chance in this competition so we have to hit the ground running and at present we have 36 lads working very hard ahead of the Laois game.

"Not having Ciaran and Cormac available is a big loss and having started our preparations later than others, we are at a bit of a disadvantage in that respect.

"However, a lot of the panel have shown some good form in the county championship and we are gradually getting stronger with each training session and challenge match.

"The lads have taken a lot of lessons on board after last year's disappointment and the main one is not to look too far ahead.

"Laois are a formidable challenge and all our energies are focused on getting a positive result against them and hopefully, taking it on from there," said Fortune.


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