Minor hurlers looking to continue improvement with Cats on the horizon in Leinster final
Dublin manager Johnny McGuirk highlighted the improvement in his side's display in the second-half as he assessed his side's Electric Ireland Leinster Minor Hurling Championship semi-final win over Westmeath last Saturday afternoon.
The 1-17 to 1-8 success looked unlikely at half-time as the Dubs enjoyed a slender two point advantage despite playing with the benefit of the breeze initially but there was a marked improvement upon the resumption as the visitors eased home with nine points to spare in Cusack Park, Mullingar.
"I think that the breeze was certainly a big factor in the first-half and I think it's fair to say that we didn't take use of it as much as we should have done," said McGuirk.
"The lads were disappointed with how they played in the first-half but we impressed on them the need to stick to the game-plan in the second-half and there was a big improvement in the team after the break," he added.
Certainly, the Dubs looked far more comfortable and precise in their promptings in the second-half as they stifled the life from the Westmeath challenge with their defensive alignment comfortably repelling the increasingly sporadic home pressure. The influence of Dublin's substitutes in that regard could not be underestimated as all the players introduced made a positive impact.
McGuirk and his fellow selectors' emphasis on the overall strength and depth of the panel has served his team well to date with the former Craobh Chiaráin star keen to emphasise the importance of competition for places within his squad.
"At this level, it is hugely important that you can bring on players that can make a difference and contribute to the overall strength of the team and we were very happy with what we saw on Saturday.
"Picking the 24 players to be involved on match day is so difficult at the moment, never mind the 15 that will start the game and all the lads we have in the panel are fiercely committed to being involved.
"It took us roughly four hours picking the panel for the Westmeath match and that shows how hard the lads are striving to be involved and that can only be a good thing for a manager.
"It is a very competitive environment around the panel with the lads pushing each other all the time and that can only improve the collective standard at training and be a big help to us," said McGuirk.
Of course, the further Dublin progress in the championship, the steeper the gradient becomes with Dublin now having a provincial final date with Kilkenny on Sunday, July 5 to look forward to and McGuirk is well aware that further improvement is required from his charges if the Dubs are to enjoy a prolonged summer.
"There was no jumping up and down on Saturday as we all know that we have a lot of things to work on.
"Playing in Croke Park will offer a new challenge for us and a Leinster Final is something for the team to look forward to and to enjoy.
"Slowly but surely, there are less and less teams involved in the championship and with every game that you play, it gets more and more serious," he added.