Monday 23 October 2017

Boland happy to lead 'drive for five'

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

THE task of keeping Dublin GAA's 'Drive for Five' All-Ireland titles alive will first be entrusted to the county's minor hurlers when they take on Waterford in the curtain-raiser at Croke Park tomorrow.

Despite being out of action since July 4 when they saw off Kilkenny in the Leinster decider, they have been installed as 8/15 favourites to book their place in a first All-Ireland final at the grade since 1983.

Dubs manager Shay Boland wasn't making any issue of the six-week break, with four of his side -- Ciaran Kilkenny, Eric Lowndes, Cormac Costello and Emmet O'Conghaile -- also involved in Dessie Farrell's minor football outfit that booked their place in the last four with a win over Cork on the August Bank holiday weekend.

"We could have been playing last weekend and that would have been a six-day turnaround for the four lads who are playing football. That would have been a big ask," Boland said.

"Shortly after the Leinster final we dropped off the training for about 10 days and then started to build it back up again. It can be hard to get challenge matches at this time of year with so few teams involved so we've played a few in-house games to keep sharp."

Dublin have a full hand to pick from ahead of the game and the former Dublin hurler is delighted with how hurling has progressed in the county in recent years.

"We played under Lar Foley so self-belief wasn't really an issue but there's a real boom in hurling in Dublin at the moment," Boland said. "And these young guys don't fear anyone. They are used to playing against and beating the big teams."

And while Dublin are expected to progress, favouritism can be a burden on minor players. Clare were most people's picks to win the All-Ireland this year but they were caught by Galway after extra-time last week.

"On the challenge game circuit, Clare were handing out beatings to pretty much everyone so you never know about the favourites tag," said the St Oliver Plunkett Eoghan Ruadh man.

"Waterford probably didn't play up to their potential in the Munster final so we'll need to be at our best."

Boland insists the Dublin support helped his side across the line in the Leinster decider as the crowds started to pour in for the senior game and he believes the early arrivals could have a big part to play in helping his side tomorrow.

"In the Leinster final, we certainly noticed the lift from the crowd on the sideline and I'm sure the players did too," he said. "Hurling people in Dublin tend to follow hurling teams through thick and thin and hopefully it'll be the same this weekend."

Irish Independent

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