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Gavin issues a West' warning

DUBLIN'S U21 footballers have become red-hot favourites to claim the Leinster U21FC title following their quarter-final demolition of Laois, but manager Jim Gavin is preaching caution ahead of their semi-final tomorrow week.

A dogged three-point win over last year's provincial champions, Wexford, in the opening round was followed by a 23-point hammering of the O'Moore County, with Gavin praising the manner in which the players maintained their intensity and focus despite the poverty of the opposition.


"One thing we've learnt from both matches so far is the guys have a very good attitude," said Gavin.

"We've experienced different circumstances over the past two games but the attitude and work ethic has been the same.

"We had to dig in and grind out a result against Wexford which was very pleasing and although things were slightly easier last Wednesday (against Laois), the

lads applied themselves very well in that game and I was happy we managed to match our first-half tally after the break."

Dublin's bench once again offered some momentum with Paul Hudson's introduction early on offering the forward line a creative balance while Gerry Seaver did his prospects no harm with a well-taken 1-1, emphasising the options available to Gavin.

"It was very positive to see lads like Conor Walsh and John Kelly coming in from the start and impressing like that and the substitutes we used gave us great options throughout," he said.

"Of course, all the lads would like to be playing all the time but they all understand that they have a role to play and that 24-man (panel) concept is something that we've instilled in the panel from the start," added the 1995 All-Ireland winner.

The challenge that Westmeath present in eight days' time should inform Gavin as to Dublin's chances of replicating their All-Ireland success of 2010, with the Round Tower clubman expecting a very tough challenge from the midlanders.

"To go down to Carlow and win as comfortably as they did is a fair achievement and you always know that (Carlow manager) Luke Dempsey will have had his team well looked after," said Gavin.

"They'll have a strong side backboned by the five or six players currently involved in their senior panel, and that kind of experience should help them hugely and players of the calibre of John Heslin, Kevin Maguire and Ger Egan will need to be watched closely," he added.

How many supporters actually get to watch them closely is a moot point, with another poor attendance in Parnell Park six days ago repeating a trend from two years ago, in which Dublin failed to draw sufficient numbers despite their involvement in a series of high quality contests.

"The championship seems to struggle to gain the required media coverage despite the talent on offer, and its profile is affected given its running during the National Football League and immediately after the inter-varsity competitions," said Gavin.

There appears no obvious solution to this concern, according to Gavin.

"I think the competition only takes off media-wise if you're lucky enough to make a provincial final.

"I think that Wednesday evenings aren't particularly conducive to big crowds either and they can inconvenience players and supporters alike.

"The championship has had great sponsorship from Cadbury the past few years and for its profile.

"It would be great if games were moved to a Saturday, or Friday evening at least, as I think the sponsors, supporters and players deserve better," concluded the Dublin boss.