dubs set up tilt at lilies
reaction: leinster mfc quarter-final
In the build-up to last Saturday's Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Football championship quarter-final, Dublin manager Paddy Christie suggested that a one-point win over Wexford would prove highly satisfactory.
That opinion was based on an obvious respect for the challenge that the Model County would present to his team on the day but also on the glut of injuries that had bedevilled his panel in the build-up to the last-eight encounter.
That the Dubs left Enniscorthy with a six-point victory after last Saturday's Leinster MFC quarter-final (3-8 to 0-11) ensured the Ballymun Kickhams clubman could be justifiably pleased with events
However, that margin of victory failed to reflect the difficulties that Dublin experienced against a decent Wexford outfit with Christie keen to highlight the battling qualities of his players as a provincial exit loomed large at half-time.
"It certainly wasn't the most fluent of performances and it wasn't the prettiest at times but I thought that the lads showed great character to finish the game well and the important thing was that we took the chances that came our way, especially in the second-half.
"We got the run of the ball at times in the game and you have to take advantage of that when it happens and I suppose that was the big difference between the teams at the final whistle," he said.
That Dublin were weakened by the absence of so many was certainly a mitigating factor on the day as they enjoyed an excellent start before fading out somewhat, allowing their opponents to seize the initiative for large parts of the game.
The relative inexperience of the panel was probably equally telling given it was the first minor championship away date for a large chunk of the team and once Wexford built up a head of steam, it proved difficult for Dublin to retrieve the fluency of their earlier blitz that saw the visitors 1-2 ahead after just eight minutes.
Dillon Keating's third minute goal appeared to be the perfect antidote to any possible nerves permeating through the team but far from allowing Dublin to build on that score, it seemed to inspire the hosts to play with greater freedom.
In fact, it appeared that Wexford, who played with such abandon when coming back from a five-point deficit to take the lead early in the second-half, allowed the enormity of their healthy position to restrict them for the remainder of the game with Dublin finishing strongly to eke out a deserved win.
"I certainly wasn't too happy with our position at half-time as we went in on level terms," said Christie.
"We had a few chances in the first-half that we didn't take but I suppose the same could be said of Wexford.
"We were well aware of the strength of the breeze in Wexford's favour for the second-half and although we fell behind early after the break, I thought the lads battled very well and the crucial thing is that we took most of the chances that came our way.
"As well as the lads that were missing and I wouldn't wish to underestimate their importance to the set-up, we also lost Donal McIlgorm to a black card. Donal was having a fine game and he was beginning to really shine for us in terms of his aerial influence so to lose him with more than 20 minutes to go could really have had a negative impact on us.
"That we battled through was down to our ability to punish their defensive mistakes and I also thought that the lads who we introduced from the bench all did very well for us," said Christie.
Certainly, Tony O'Sullivan from Whitehall Colmcille helped shore up a Dublin defence that had struggled with the intelligent probing of both Mikey Dwyer and James Stafford while another player brought on, John Kindlon, showed his predatory instincts when firing Dublin's crucial second goal before being black-carded, in what was a telling if curtailed cameo from the Castleknock player.
That Dublin will need to improve on Saturday's performance if their title defence ambitions are to be realised is beyond argument but a six-week break should help with regard to rehabilitation from injuries and the manner in which Dublin finished the game should also add to the collective confidence within the panel.
"We are where we need to be and that is still fighting in the championship," said Christie.
"We were well aware that it was going to be a tough challenge for us down in Wexford and the fact that we came through it was very encouraging in terms of the fighting spirit within the panel.
"There are an awful lot of things that we need to improve on but we have a few weeks to work on things ahead of the Kildare game.
"We knew before the championship that Leinster would be very competitive and there are some good teams left so I would imagine that the two semi-finals will be very tight.
"Meath were very impressive against us in the Leinster Minor League semi-final yet they only just beat Louth on Saturday so I don't think there's any team out there much better than the others.
"It really is all to play for now and we're looking forward to getting back to training and preparing as best we can for the Kildare match (Parnell Park, Saturday June 27)."