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we will have to work Donegal out: kevlihan

Dublin manager Cyril Kevlihan expects a tricky assignment for his charges when they face Donegal in the Electric Ireland All-Ireland Minor Football Championship semi-final in Croke Park next Sunday afternoon (1.30).

The challenge from Donegal represents a step-up in class for the Dubs, who came through Leinster relatively comfortably before overcoming Cork by four points at the start of the month.

The Ulster champions have been equally impressive in their run through their province and they showed their fighting qualities when narrowly getting the better of Roscommon by 0-10 to 1-5 in a tense affair in Markievicz Park.

"Donegal are a very good team and they have shown their qualities throughout the year," said Kevlihan. "They have had a great year and the manner in which they came through Ulster was very impressive.

"We know that they play a certain way and they are very comfortable in playing in that manner but that is something that we will need to work on.

"We are very much looking forward to the match and as we always do, we will just focus and concentrate on our own game and make sure that we are fully prepared for such a big match," he added.

Whoever comes through in five days' time will have their work cut out in getting the better of a 
well-drilled and talented Kerry outfit who highlighted their promise when beating holders Mayo in headquarters last Sunday. However, Dublin and Donegal's focus will be concentrated solely on coming through Sunday's encounter on what is a wonderful day for both counties, given the involvement of the senior teams later in the day.

With a capacity crowd expected in Croke Park, both sides will need to overcome any potential nerves. Having played in the Leinster Final in similar enough circumstances, Dublin could be perceived to enjoy an advantage over their opponents in terms of experiencing that particularly unique atmosphere.

However, Kevlihan does not subscribe to that point of view, stressing the individual nature of each game, especially at this grade. "I certainly wouldn't see the fact that we played here before as an advantage," he said.

"It is a new day and every game is different and unique in its own way. You could have great experience of playing in Croke Park and be very familiar with the venue but that is no guarantee that you can deliver a good performance on the day.

"Every separate match has its own identity so I wouldn't see the fact that we player here already in the Leinster final as any way relevant to how next Sunday will work out," added the Thomas Davis clubman.

That Dublin produced their most compelling and complete display of the year against Kildare in the Leinster final will, however, offer Kevlihan some comfort and the manner in which they built on that performance against Cork has shown the progression made as the campaign has evolved.

Despite struggling to make an early impression against the Munster final runners-up, Dublin assumed control of the game thanks to two superbly-taken Chris Sallier goals before withstanding a late Cork rally to confirm their semi-final place.

"I was very pleased with the overall performance and most of what we did was very good," offered Kevlihan. "I felt that we responded well to Cork's comeback and that was very encouraging and it is always good for the team development to experience competitive and high-quality games like that.

"A lot of the hard work is done now and the next week is about trying to get the performance right on Sunday," he added.

Irrespective of Sunday's result, both Donegal and Dublin can look forward with great expectation to a contest that should be especially tight given the relative qualities of both sides.

An opportunity to play in front of such a large and vociferous support is one to be savoured and enjoyed, a fact endorsed by Kevlihan.

"Having the senior teams involved later in the day is a positive for the two counties. It is a potentially a great experience for all the lads involved and their development can only be enhanced by playing on such a stage as this. All the players are really looking forward to the game and we're just looking forward to enjoying the match and hopefully playing to our potential on the day," he concluded.


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