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Forward firepower can see Dubs breaching minor Tribes defence

DUBLIN will hope to claim their first final appearance in eight years when they face Galway in their All-Ireland minor football championship semi-final at Croke Park tomorrow afternoon.

The Dubs enter the contest as favourites given their seamless progression through their Leinster campaign was followed up by a comprehensive eight-point win over Cork at the quarter-final stage earlier this month.



SURPRISE

However, Galway will welcome the underdog tag attributed to them and have regrouped slowly but surely following their surprise loss to Roscommon in the July's Connacht final, with Cavan defeated far more comfortably than the 1-9 to 0-9 scoreline suggests.

Their strength appears to lie in defence, with James Shaughnessy enjoying an excellent summer at full-back, while Adrian Nolan and Cathal Mulryan have also been instrumental for a side that has conceded just 2-35 in their four championship games to date.

How they cope against a Dublin team that has amassed an imposing total of 8-78 so far, albeit from five matches, will be central to their chances of springing a surprise tomorrow.

The pace and movement of the Dublin attack has been a feature of their progress to date, with corner-forwards Scott Fulham and Paul Mannion offering a potent threat close to goal, while dual players Cormac Costello and Ciarán Kilkenny have added decent scoring returns to their obvious ball-winning abilities.

However, it is centre-forward Gavin Ivory who makes the forward line tick and a repeat of his exceptional Leinster final display against Meath, in which the Raheny player hit 0-5 from play as well as converting a '45', could go a long way to deciding the outcome in Dublin's favour.

Whether Ivory is allowed to exert such an influence will depend largely on the supply of ball provided at centrefield by Emmet Ó Conghaile and Patrick O'Higgins.



Dynamic

O'Higgins has quietly become a key figure for Dublin following a string of accomplished performances, although his defensive capabilities will be tested.

In defence, Dublin have rarely been put under concerted pressure in their games to date and although they ceded possession and territory far too readily against Cork in the second-half, only four scores were conceded during that period, with Graham Hanningan and Robbie McDaid making numerous interceptions and turnovers.

Dublin's strength, however, lies in their half-back line of Jack McCaffrey (son of selector and former Dublin senior half-back Noel), John Small and Eric Lowndes.

They who have been the springboard for Dublin to attack in waves, with McCaffrey's dynamic runs from deep giving his side another valuable attacking and scoring option.

The wide open spaces of Croke Park should also suit their expansive game and their familiarity with HQ is another advantage they hold over their opponents.

As Dublin manager Dessie Farrell acknowledged during the week, the formbook at minor level is "fraught with unpredictability" and a victory for Galway could never be discounted.

However, it is not by chance that Dublin have long been recognised as among the front-runners for All-Ireland glory and if they remain focused and play as a unit they should have to much firepower and take another progressive step in that direction tomorrow afternoon.

VERDICT: Dublin


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