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Intensity levels are coming back up: Blues boss

PAT GILROY has returned to his oft-quoted mantra for 2012 as he looks forward to seeing his footballers take their opening step in defence of Sam.

Intensity. That's the one quality Gilroy craves at Croke Park this Sunday - bar the obligatory requirement of a Leinster quarter-final victory over Louth.

On several occasions last spring, as his Sky Blue charges oscillated between red-hot and ropey in the extreme, the Dublin manager bemoaned a dip in the intensity levels that were such a standout feature of last year's All-Ireland campaign.

The good news is that Gilroy believes application won't be a problem this Sunday - but you can never know, for sure, until the whistle is blown.

"The primary thing is we dipped in and out of intensity during the league, and we just know we can't do that for the championship," he told the Evening Herald at DCU today.

"So, we want to see that right from start to finish. We wouldn't want to see any dip of that in this game, because it's the cornerstone of what we do."

Gilroy expanded: "Part of it will be down to the way the opposition play as well but, if we collectively go at it, I'd be very confident that we will get that.

"There have been good signs of it out here over the last two months - that fellas have upped things considerably in terms of the intensity of the (practice) games. We have got a bit more consistency in that area."

The Dublin boss has been encouraged by the efforts of his so-called second string - the 'B' team actually defeated the 'As' in last weekend's final practice match. "That happened on a regular basis last year, and as a result fellas get moved from team to team as well," he explained. "It's exactly the way we would want it. And hopefully now we'll just take it into Sunday."

Gilroy isn't too concerned by the two-month gap since Dublin's last competitive outing - a top-flight defeat to Cork in early April. "The eight weeks have flown," he assured. "It hasn't dragged. There were times when that four or five-week period in my (playing) time involved has been a bit of a drag ... the sense is that we managed it quite well by mixing things up a bit."

However, he conceded there is always a level of uncertainty before every first round match. "Last year our performance against Laois was very solid in the first round, without being spectacular," he recalled. "We've a little bit more questions to answer with this game, given the league that we had. We were coming into the last two championships on the back of good leagues, so we've asked ourselves questions over the last eight weeks and hopefully we'll get a good response."

On the team selection front, Gilroy confirmed that Cian O'Sullivan's latest hamstring twinge, suffered at training on Tuesday night, was "very, very minor" and they might even have chanced playing him but for the defender's history of hamstring trouble.

He also indicated that at least two of his recent U21 recruits (Jack McCaffrey, Emmet ó Conghaile and Kevin O'Brien) could be included among the subs. "Jack McCaffrey hurt himself in a club game during the week, but we'll see how he is on Saturday," Gilroy said.