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Sky Blues set to soar


Chris Bennett of Dublin. Picture: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Chris Bennett of Dublin. Picture: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Dublin manager Dessie Farrell. Picture: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE


Chris Bennett of Dublin. Picture: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

AS with all championship entries, there will be a degree of uncertainty involved as Dublin take their bow in the Cadburys Leinster U21 Football Championship when they face Carlow tomorrow night in Carlow IT (7.30).

Last year's truncated campaign, in which a highly-fancied Dublin succumbed to Longford at the quarter-final stage, suggested that preparations were not possibly what they could have been, but Dublin manager Dessie Farrell is reasonably upbeat ahead of tomorrow's challenge.

"In general, things have been going well for us apart from the usual issues that all counties have regarding access to players," he said. "College commitments cannot be helped at this time and neither can call-ups to the senior panel, but it really is a problem that every county has to deal with and we can have few complaints about our preparations to date," he added.

With Farrell yet to release his match panel for tomorrow, there are a few question marks surrounding the personnel involved as Dublin look to replicate the recent successes in 2010 and 2012.

However, it can be assumed that quite a number will come from Dublin's minor panels of 2011 and 2012 that reached successive All-Ireland finals, although the Na Fianna clubman hinted there may be a few surprises in store at the throw-in tomorrow evening.

Currently there are eight U21s in Jim Gavin's senior panel, including Jack McCaffrey, Cormac Costello, Eric Lowndes, Shane Carthy, Ciarán Kilkenny and Paul Mannion, who have enjoyed senior experience either last year or in this year's NFL to date.

"The commitment and attitude of all the panellists involved could not be faulted and the most encouraging aspect from the management's perspective is that a number of players have broken into the squad for the current year," said Farrell.

"These players have not necessarily been involved previously with the county's minor or development squad set-ups, but they have come in and impressed everyone involved in the group," said Farrell, who will work alongside fellow selectors Alan 'Nipper' McNally, Philip McElwee and Mick Galvin.


That continuity should assist what, on paper, should be a very imposing and talented panel, with the Na Fianna clubman's primary ambition a berth in the last four.

"We are really looking forward to the match tomorrow and all we can look for from the lads is ensuring that we get through to the semi-finals.

"Having being involved at minor level, which is a more drawn-out championship, the U21 contrasts hugely with that, given that it is played out over a relatively short period of time.

"As a result, momentum plays a huge part in any sides' ambitions and the back-to-back nature of the fixtures ensures there is little enough room to tweak things as the Championship develops," he said.

Carlow present the initial stumbling block to Dublin achieving that momentum and there have been positive noises emanating from the county that things are moving in the right direction for the U21 team.

Certainly, recent quotes from manager Mick Hyland reflect a confidence in the abilities inherent within his panel, with Farrell expecting a decent test of his own panel's capabilities tomorrow night.

"The first game out can be very difficult at times and we will need to hit the ground running. There is a very strong tradition of football in Carlow and the fact that we have to travel there brings its own challenge.

"There's no denying that it should be a tough challenge for us tomorrow, but the lads seem well focused and we're all raring to go," concluded Farrell.