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Men in the middle key for minors

DUBLIN will aim to reach their third successive provincial final when they face Kilkenny in their Electric Ireland Leinster MHC semi-final in O'Moore Park, Portlaoise this afternoon (3.15).

The contest is a repeat of last year's provincial decider in which the Dubs prevailed more comfortably than the 1-14 to 1-11 final scoreline would suggest but a tighter encounter is expected between two sides yet to find their true form this season so far.

Kilkenny laboured for long periods before finally recording a flattering eight-point win over Laois in the opening round with wing-forward Conor Martin their scoring talisman as he amassed 2-6 over the hour.

Robert Moran, Diarmuid Cody and Eoin Bergin also chipped in with valuable scores for the Cats and their movement could well trouble a Dublin defence that is without the injured Ross Tierney.

However, Tierney's absence is partially compensated for by the return of dual player Eric Lowndes -- with the St Peregrine's player having given a series of strong performances in Dublin's progression to the All-Ireland Final last year.


Another player making his seasonal bow is Cuala's Colm Cronin and how both players react in what is their first championship game of the summer will have a huge bearing on the final outcome, given their value to the team.

Cronin's midfield partnership with Cormac Costello looks a match made in heaven with the latter's game intelligence in a more withdrawn role a crucial ingredient in Dublin's facile back door win over Carlow six weeks ago.

That Dublin required the qualifier route was testimony to a poor display against Wexford in the opening round and a repeat of that lethargy could see their campaign come to a premature end.

However, Tierney's absence aside, Dublin appear to have a degree of momentum in their favour and that could be sufficient to see them home in a tight, low-scoring affair.

The victor from today's semi-final will advance to face the winner of tomorrow's semi-final between Wexford and Laois. Home advantage should help steer that Wexford's way.