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Gavin tips 'superb' Kilkenny to make impact on big stage

JIM GAVIN has backed Ciarán Kilkenny to make an immediate impression with Dublin - if he chooses not to embark on a professional career in Australia.

A minor last year, Kilkenny has been in awesome form for the Dublin Under 21s this season, scoring 1-7 in last night's Leinster final success in Páirc Tailteann, yet questions remain over his future intentions.

"He's a superb player, technically and physically," praised Gavin after the Castleknock man predictably picked up the official Man of the Match award. "His game sense, his game management is superb. Really great attitude. He's a credit to his club and his family."

Kilkenny will sit his Leaving Cert this year and Pat Gilroy will not ask him into his senior squad until such time as the exams are finished.

But already there has been an offer of a two-year rookie deal from AFL outfit Carlton Blues, while two other clubs are also thought to be interested in making the player an offer. "It will be a big loss to Dublin GAA," Gavin admitted.

"But it's a fantastic opportunity for him. And if he was going to any other sport, never mind AFL - it would be a great opportunity as well. If someone was going for academic or going away to work, you wouldn't begrudge them either.

"I don't want to speak for Ciarán on this one regards his future, I'm just delighted that he's involved in the Dublin Under 21s this year."

Gary Sweeney and Jack McCaffrey have also been tipped for call ups to Gilroy's squad, although no movement is expected until the Under 21 competition has ended and Gavin insisted senior football would hold no fears for either.


"From my observation close up, they're well up to it. Physically and technically as footballers, they will transfer quite smoothly into the senior setup."

The 1995 All-Ireland winner also suggested that Dublin's third Leinster crown in four years could herald a prolonged period of success for the county at senior level.

"It's massive. It's absolutely massive," he insisted. "It's the benchmark now. Look at the minor team of three years ago that won a Leinster minor title - there are six players from that team in our team tonight. This grade is really where it's at and we can see the fruits of that in the senior squad.

"The 2003 team that won the All-Ireland Under 21, you had Alan Brogan and Bryan Cullen on that team so the correlation is obvious," he concluded.