Dubs star David Byrne geared up for battle
U21 captain praises team-mate Carthy for his strength of characer
DUBLIN'S underage football renaissance may be perceived as an unqualified success but David Byrne has been there for the low days too.
He was full-back two years ago when Longford won in Parnell Park by racking up the grand total of 1-6 and he was a used substitute in the 2011 All-Ireland minor final loss to Tipperary, when Dessie Farrell's men nursed a six-point lead and contrived to blow it.
"You definitely learn a lot from your defeats and I'd say Dessie is no different," says Byrne, this year's under-21 captain and thus seeking to complete an All-Ireland underage captaincy double, having lifted the All-Ireland minor trophy on 2012.
"I'd say for the under-21 loss against Longford it is great for motivation for the year ahead.
"I was involved in 2013 when they caught us and then played them again in 2014 and you do draw on your defeats to help you."
Farrell is the constant through it all and most likely, a future Dublin senior manager in the making and Byrne has witnessed his evolution at close quarters too.
"I have been managed by Dessie at minor and under-21 now for a long while," Byrne explains.
"He's a brilliant manager, he's good at motivating players definitely and he's very understanding because after playing the game himself he knows what it takes.
"I'd have a lot of time for him as a manager, I think he's absolutely brilliant."
A different man/manager to Jim Gavin?
"They both have their own individual managing style, definitely. They are different teams, different cultures," the Naomh Olaf man explains of the process of cohabiting Gavin's and Farrell's panels.
"Tactically, they are similar enough, it's not like one is ultra-defensive, we play similar enough football in general, which has been easy enough to adjust to.
"But they are two different managers so you have to adjust as a player."
"With the under-21s, as captain, I'd be a bit more vocal, more of a leader whereas coming to the seniors I'd have more of a back seat in terms of there are different leaders having already being established on the senior squad."
"Under-21 can be blistering, it's just as fast, but at senior I think the players are that bit bigger, you can't be bringing the ball into contact as much at senior level.
"You have to be very conscious of that if you are trying to bring the ball into contact with a player like Michael Murphy."
"It depends who you are playing.
"We played Cavan last year and there was absolutely no space. It depends what system that managers want to put in place.
"An under-21 manager can put in place a defensive system if they want to as well."
Byrne is one of seven survivors from the team that beat Roscommon in last year's All-Ireland U21 decider though he points to a "different culture" amongst the 2015 bunch.
"There are still a good few from last year but there is a lot of lads who are playing under-21s for the first time this year.
"So it is a completely different dynamic," he explains.
"Coming into a second Leinster final at under-21 (Dublin play Kildare tomorrow in Navan, 7.30) is definitely somewhat advantageous.
"But like I said, there is a completely different feel this year. It's a team in its own right."
"The players last year who have gone - the likes of Jack McCaffrey, Paul Mannion, Ciarán Kilkenny and Emmet Ó Conghaile - they are huge characters so it is a completely different team to be honest with you."
The squad have also been through the collective shock of one of their own; Shane Carthy, dropping himself off the panel last year as he battled depression and his subsequent repatriation with football.
Farrell subsequently praised the squad for their reaction to Carthy's plight.
"You have to commend Shane for coming through that," Byrne insists.
"It has been absolutely brilliant to get him back playing this year. I know Shane well after playing with him for a good few years, I came up with the same age group as him.
"I'd absolutely commend him for coming through it.
"It has been tough on him but we just tried to be as accommodating as possible as a team, whenever he was ready to come back we were happy to take him back.
"Anyone who said they knew Shane had no idea that was going on in the background.
"It was absolutely very surprising but it is testament to the strength of his character that he is coming through now and having a very strong under-21 campaign.
"He is definitely a leader on our team.
"It definitely took us by surprise but we just wished Shane all the best and said 'you have to do what you have to do, get yourself right and football comes second'."
He's (Farrell) a brilliant manager, he's good at motivating players