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Home comforts can help Dubs see off the Cats

Dublin will put their provincial title on the line when facing Kilkenny in their Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Hurling Championship semi-final at Parnell Park this afternoon (3.0).

Last year's success counts for little, however, given the relative inexperience within the panel with only three starters having featured in Dublin's five-point win over the Cats in Portlaoise at the corresponding stage last year.

Given that general callowness, the absence through injury of dual player Eoghan O'Donnell will be keenly felt with the Whitehall Colmcille man recuperating from a fractured fibula suffered late last month.

O'Donnell's leadership has been particularly evident this term in both codes and the likes of Cian Mac Gabhann (right), Shane Barrett and captain Sean Treacy will need to provide that quality if the Dubs are to enjoy a similar outcome.

Kilkenny's form has been patchy to date with a facile win over Laois followed by their 3-7 to 1-10 loss to Wexford, although they managed to restore their confidence when hitting seven goals past Kildare at the quarter-final stage.

Despite receiving a grilling at the hands of Wexford's Conor McDonald earlier in the year, Evan Cody is considered a durable full-back and the strong spine is maintained with the inclusion of centre-back Jason Stanley and midfielder James Maher.

Their attack will look to the likes of Kevin Kenny, John Walsh and Eoin Kenny for scores and their influence could prove pivotal in what could be a low-scoring affair.

There is an acknowledgement that this Dublin outfit may lack the experience and know-how to repeat the heroics of the past two years and that a run to September could well be beyond this particular crop this year.

However, the familiar environs of Parnell Park and the possible return to action of Cian Boland could well be enough to tip the scales in Dublin's favour, albeit by a narrow margin.

Verdict: DUBLIN

MODELS CAN LIVE UP TO THE HYPE BY LOWERING LAOIS

Wexford will have the burden of expectancy resting on their collective shoulders when facing Laois in their Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Hurling Championship semi-final at O'Moore Park, Portlaoise tomorrow afternoon (1.45).

Such pressure of favouritism hasn't always sat easily with the Model County given their famine at minor level that stretches back 28 years since their last provincial success at this grade.

However, there were encouraging signs in their 3-7 to 1-10 quarter-final win over Kilkenny that Wexford possess both the talent and mental ability to finally claim the Hanrahan Cup with hugely positive noises emanating from the south east.

That optimism stems largely from the contributions of dual player Donal Shanley, centre-back Conor Devitt and full-forward Conor McDonald, who amassed 3-4 in that historic win over the Cats.

Given that Laois succumbed to Kilkenny by 3-20 to 1-9 earlier in the year, the midlanders have bounced back superbly with facile wins over both Meath and near-neighbours Offaly confirming their semi-final berth.

The high expectation and travelling to Portlaoise may hinder Wexford to a degree but they should have sufficient nous and drive to progress to their second successive final.

Verdict: WEXFORD


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