Friday 28 October 2016

Dub cubs may be inexperienced but have talent to dethrone defending champions

A relatively inexperienced Dublin will look to continue their progression when meeting Kilkenny in their Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Hurling Championship Final at Croke Park tomorrow afternoon (2.00).

The Dubs have shown glimpses of their potential with strong second-half showings against both Offaly and Westmeath but further improvement will be required if they are to the dethrone the current provincial and All-Ireland holders.

Dublin's performances have hinted at encouraging signs that they look primed for a prolonged campaign and their ability to finish both their championship games in a positive manner has reflected well on their organisation and support play.

The Cats struggled to get by Wexford in their opening fixture but showed great physicality in comfortably accounting for Laois by 2-18 to 0-11 at Nowlan Park last Sunday week and one can expect them to maintain that upward curve of development in tomorrow's decider.

Andrew Gaffney has proved their scoring talisman, hitting 2-17 in those two wins and Dublin's discipline in the tackle will be crucial given Gaffney's prowess from dead balls. That hasn't proved an issue to date with Conor Ryan, Paddy Smyth and Eoin Foley all enjoying stellar campaigns in the Dublin reargaurd.

Donal Burke's return to fitness and contribution in the semi-final win over Westmeath is another positive for the Dubs with the Na Fianna clubman's experiences from last year of huge significance considering the youthful make-up of the Dubs line-up.

A greater return from opportunities created would serve Dublin well tomorrow as chances may prove at a premium against a sticky Kilkenny defence

And in that regard, there will be a heavy onus on Matthew Oliver, Mark Maguire and Eoghan Conroy for scores.

Another crucial factor for Dublin will be their ability to secure valuable contributions from the bench, a feature of their displays to date, and the emphasis that manager Johnny McGuirk has placed on the 20-man game could well help Dublin over the line if a tight encounter ensues.

Twelve months ago, Dublin crumbled to Kilkenny in the Leinster final, losing by 2-19 to 2-10, but the positivity and focus within the panel suggests that the Hanrahan Cup could return to the capital for the first time since 2012.

Verdict: Dublin

leinster mhc final: dublin v KILKENNY, CROKE PARK, TOMORROW

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