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Minor upheaval keeping Boland and Dubs on their toes

Until recently minor hurling was played in its natural form -- it was free-flowing and the players went man to man. But that's all changed now and Dublin manager Shay Boland has seen the evolution of the game first hand.

"It's a different animal altogether nowadays," says Boland. "Every team, depending on their strengths and weaknesses, are looking to play a certain way. You have to be on top of everything. Every team has a different way of playing; bringing a man in or out, rotating forwards, short passing, there is an awful lot of tactical awareness needed.

"Sometimes it's too late by the time you realise what's going on. A lot of the football tactics are making their way into hurling. These are things we'd never have considered three or four years ago.

"We played Wexford in the championship earlier this year and they brought a load of men behind the ball. We hadn't a clue what was going on and we didn't know how to deal with it. But we learned from watching it and analysing what was actually happening and we had to change our game to suit that."

Boland was in charge of the Dublin minors in 2008 and took them again last year for a two-year term. He picked his initial panel with a two-year cycle in mind so that nine of the players who featured in last year's defeat to Galway are playing again this time round.

Eric Lowndes, Cian O'Callaghan, Seánie McClelland, Colm Cronin, Conor McHugh, Cormac Costello and Paul Winters all started that final, while Oisín O'Rorke and Cian Boland were used as subs. They lost by nine points but from being there and from having a previous stint as manager, Boland has learned a lot.

"You learn how to prepare for matches and how to prepare panels and the types of players you need to have. You also find out the level of fitness that's required and the importance of tactics. If you're a year or two gone out of it, you're out of date; the level of physical training, the type of hurling, everything about it is gone up a level or two."

Dublin's opponents this afternoon, Tipperary, defeated defending champions Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final. Although Boland is confident, he feels they will have their work cut out against the Munster champions. It took a stoppage-time goal against Clare to secure the win in their All-Ireland semi-final. They've gained plenty of experience from playing there this year and last and that will stand to them too.

Win or lose today, Boland feels the future is looking bright for Dublin hurling.

"There's been a big lift in the currency of hurling in Dublin over the last few years, we're working as hard as we were five or six years ago but sometimes it just takes it a bit longer to come to fruition and get results. There is a lot of work going on with clubs, schools, individuals and different teams. Although our senior team didn't have a particularly good year, there are a lot of players to come in from last year's under 21 team and last year's minor team and hopefully they will get a lot of game time. I'm not sure what Anthony Daly has in mind but I gather he wants to freshen things up so hopefully some of these lads will be involved."

Dublin: C Mac Gabhann; S Barrett, C O'Callaghan, E Lowndes; E O'Donnell, R Murphy, S McClelland; C Costello, C Cronin; C McHugh, S Treacy, C Conway; O O'Rorke, C Boland, P Winters.

Tipperary: P Maher; R Maher, M Breen, J Peters; T Fox, T Hamill, B Heffernan; B Maher, J McGrath; S Maher, J Shelly, T Gallagher; S Cahill, S O'Brien, M McCarthy.

Dublin v Tipperary,

Croke Park, 1.15

Sunday Indo Sport