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Sunday 4 December 2016

McGuirk is optimistic despite narrow loss

reaction: leinster mhc final

Dublin manager Johnny McGuirk cut an optimistic figure in the immediate aftermath after his side's narrow defeat to Kilkenny in last Sunday's Leinster Minor Hurling Final at Croke Park.

The 1-17 to 1-15 defeat was tough to take given that Dublin looked in prime position with five minutes remaining but Kilkenny's greater fluidity in the closing stages saw the holders eke out a two-point win.

However, as McGuirk rightly pointed out, there were plenty of positives for the management team to derive from the display as they prepare for an All-Ireland quarter-final later this month.

"It was nip and tuck but they got scores at the right times and although we played well, we don't want moral victories and we want to come out and win these games.

"At half-time, we asked them to give us ten minutes of really hard work and in fairness to the lads they did that and we got our reward as we got on top.

"We were looking to push on but at the end of the day Kilkenny are Kilkenny and they have fine stick-men and they got a couple of important scores at the end.

"Young Alex Considine did very well when he came on and had an instant impact but it was very hard for our forwards because of the way that we set up as they had an extra man back all the time.

"On the bright side, we have another day out and we'll be focussing all our attentions on that," said McGuirk.

If the Dublin players can respond to Sunday's setback in the same manner and determination of their manager, the side will be well placed to build on Sunday's display as the summer progresses.

Certainly, there is room for improvement within the panel with certain players not delivering performances in keeping with their talent but the benefit of having seen Kilkenny at close quarters should help the team in the long term.

Application, determination and endeavour is not an issue within this panel and those traits could prove hugely significant should Dublin bounce back from Sunday's defeat.

"It's a big day out for them and in fairness, they're only young lads and some would be nervous enough but I felt that they coped with it really well as a unit," said McGuirk.

FIERCE

"You couldn't find a harder working bunch and that match on Sunday will bring our standard on something fierce as with respect to the other teams that we have played this year, you benchmark your talent on the likes of Kilkenny.

"We're disappointed but there's not much between us. You don't want moral victories though and we'll drive on now and prepare for the quarter-final," he added.

Going through the back door was never the preference for this Dublin team but now that eventuality awaits them, Dublin will look to build on the positives of running Kilkenny close without playing to their optimum over the 60 minutes.

Leading by two points with four minutes left shows how close Dublin are at this level and McGuirk is confident that Dublin possess the attributes to progress in the championship.

"We talked to them on the pitch after the game and we're more than confident that we'll get an opportunity to meet them (Kilkenny) later in the year.

"We won't fear them and that's a fact. We'll get our homework done and drive the lads on and we'll be well prepared for the quarter-final, you can be sure of that," he concluded.

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