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Minors enjoy growth spurt

THERE were many positives for Dublin to take when getting the better of Wexford in their Electric Ireland Leinster MFC quarter-final at St Claire's last Saturday afternoon.

Naturally, sealing a semi-final berth was paramount, but there was also a marked improvement in terms of structure and fluency, given the difficulties they experienced in those areas during their narrow extra-time opening round victory against Louth last month.



Central to that progression was the redeployment of Eoghan O'Donnell to midfield, with the dual player providing a much better foil to the towering Sam Molony in terms of mobility and astute use of possession.

Aaron Byrne was another to impress following his return to wing-back, a position he excelled in during Dublin's successful Leinster League campaign, with Dublin manager Cyril Kevlihan acknowledging the development from four weeks ago.

"We were happy with the positional switches that we made. In truth, the lads in every position did what we asked them to do and worked very hard.

"Maybe the team had a better looking balance to it and Eoghan O'Donnell in the middle of the park gave us something extra in terms of strength and football ability.

"In fairness, they all did well and we were very happy with all of them, including the substitutes that came in and made a massive contribution to our win," he said.

The improvement from most sectors allowed Dublin to pull clear from a Wexford team that relied almost exclusively on the dead-ball prowess of Donal Shanley for scores but given their obvious limitations, it was only in the final quarter that Dublin looked confident of a semi-final berth.

That was partially attributable to the doggedness of their opponents but Dublin will be well aware of the need to translate supremacy onto the scoreboard if they are to enjoy a prolonged campaign.

"We worked a lot from the Louth game and were looking for an improvement and thankfully we got that. Wexford are a very good team and they hung in there.

"We started very well and maybe we could have got a goal or two and once we didn't score those, it gave Wexford hope and they stayed with the challenge, as we knew they would.

"There was a spell there where it could have gone either way, but our lads managed to show their ability and thankfully get the scores that we needed to pull clear," said Kevlihan.

Despite showing a greater degree of accuracy in their shooting, both from placed balls and open play, one of the concerns for Kevlihan was the number of goal chances that were overlooked with five presentable opportunities missed over the hour.

Wexford goalkeeper Dylan Cloke should take some of the credit for that, but it's another area that needs addressing given the psychological importance of goals. "I was far happier with our point-taking and I suppose the problems we had today was in struggling to take our goal chances.

"If we had taken one or two of those, it would have been a huge help and on a positive note we should be happy that the lads created those chances and that is important.

"On another day, hopefully they'll go in for us," said Kevlihan.

With a much-heralded Kildare team standing in Dublin's way of a third successive Leinster final, the Dubs may need to be even more clinical if their provincial ambitions are to be realised.

The young Dubs face Kildare, who defeated Offaly comprehensively, on Saturday, July 6 in Parnell Park in their Leinster MFC semi-final duel.