Farrell: Dublin keen to get show on the road against Laois
leinster u21 fc
Dublin will take their first steps to defending their provincial and national titles when they face Laois in their EirGrid Leinster Under 21 Football Championship quarter-final in O'Moore Park, Portlaoise tomorrow evening (7.30).
The joyous scenes that accompanied Dublin's All-Ireland victory over Roscommon last May are but a distant memory now as the Dubs look hit to the ground running in a championship that is notoriously difficult to predict and which generates a momentum all of its own at times.
First-round exits for defending champions are far from a rarity and Dublin will be conscious of the potential pitfalls that accompany their clash with the midlanders tomorrow evening.
Certainly, Dublin are at a perceived disadvantage given their opponents have already tasted championship fare after last Wednesday's 4-12 to 1-11 victory over Wexford.
That win for Laois highlighted their potential and Dublin manager Dessie Farrell is adamant that Dublin will need to be at their best if they are to progress beyond tomorrow night.
"They have a game under their belt which is a significant help to them and I was very impressed with how they played against Wexford last Wednesday night.
"They have a potent attack that includes some excellent individual forwards and although they struggled in the early stages, they were able to take the opportunities when they came and finished the game strongly.
"They will also be playing at home which is of course something that you'd prefer to be doing but thankfully, Portlaoise is a ground that we are familiar with, having played a lot there last year so we're looking forward to going there and getting our championship started," he added.
Naturally, the build-up to the game has not been smooth as silk given the duties that many of the panel have had with their clubs, colleges and county teams.
As a consequence of these temporary absentees, Farrell has been working with a larger panel than normal but despite the inherent difficulties of working within these confines, he has been pleased with what he has witnessed from his charges in the build-up to the game.
"In comparison to last year, we have been a bit more fragmented this year," he conceded.
"The players have been managing various commitments and the fact the club Under 21 championships were still being concluded was another thing that we needed to contend with, regarding access to players and managing their workload.
"We have brought in sixteen lads that were involved with the Dublin minors last year and it has been a steep learning curve for some of them but their attitude has been excellent.
"There are not many players involved from the minor team of 2013 so there is an interesting dynamic between our more experienced players and those just introduced into the panel as we try to blend the two groups.
"The players are very keen to let the competition commence and we are looking forward to stepping into battle once again," he added.