Senior star O'Donnell urges Dubs to build on U-21 promise
For Dublin defender Eoghan O'Donnell, tomorrow's All-Ireland U-21 hurling semi-final clash with Galway can't come quickly enough.
The seniors' qualifier defeat to Cork has been a painful and the chance to atone for that at U-21 level is a welcome one.
"It's a bitter pill to swallow," said O'Donnell. "It takes a long time to get over it. I don't know if you really get over it ever. It's just a matter of getting back on the horse and going at it again.
"You try not to think about it too much. You watch the game back and see what you could have done better. You pick flaws in everything. But that comes with the territory of losing.
"So it was a nice thing to still have a competition to be in. It's tough. A lot of years you go from 100 miles an hour to nothing.
"So it's nice to have the U-21s to go back to. We had a bit of success with the U-21s, so it is a real boost. So it definitely takes a lot of the hard feelings out from losing it."
The Whitehall Colmcille man has been in fine form in 2016. He made his debut for Ger Cunningham's senior Dublin side in the opening round of the league and hasn't looked back since, starting every game in both league and championship.
"I was happy with the year. As a 20-year-old, it is tough to get a position. It's so competitive. So I was delighted myself to grab a jersey.
"Next year is a new year and there's lads coming back from injury.
"So we'll have to work even harder to keep your jersey. Now is only the start of it."
There is a more immediate focus, however. The Dublin U-21s signalled their intent for the year when dumping four in-a-row chasing Wexford out in their opening tie.
Further wins over Westmeath - who beat Kilkenny in dramatic fashion - and Offaly secured their provincial title.
But they now face Galway who, as ever, come into the competition as something of an unknown quantity.
"Wexford was a massive obstacle," O'Donnell agreed. "We knew if we could get past Wexford, it would open up the whole year for us.
"It was a huge platform to build on if we got over Wexford. So it's just another step to get over (tomorrow) and hopefully we can get over that.
"Galway are a very tough side. You saw how good they were (in senior).
"They narrowly missed out on an All-Ireland final. And a lot of their players are with both the U-21 and senior panels. So they'll be flying fit."