u21s save best for last
Dublin's ability to remain composed in final minutes central to Leinster glory
Dublin's ability to finish games in the ascendancy was once again in evidence as they eventually overcame a talented Kildare outfit in Navan last Thursday evening.
The final quarter in Páirc Tailteann maintained a trend that began in their opening round defeat of Laois and Longford were another team to have their collective hopes dashed by a Dublin team that showed their best form in the last 15 minutes.
Why Dublin should be finishing games in this manner is difficult to explain but manager Dessie Farrell (pictured) acknowledges that his team's ability to keep their heads in the closing stages has been a vital component in their successful provincial defence.
"We were delighted to get the win but in some ways we put ourselves into a position that we shouldn't have been in because we kicked too many wides and allowed Kildare to remain in the game," he said.
"However, the lads showed great resolve and composure and the important thing is that they never panicked, which is a great sign of their mental strength.
"The lads don't get too flustered during games but we still have to recognise that there are still some areas in our game that we can't be too pleased with and we will need to address these in the coming weeks," said Farrell.
Given that Dublin had conceded a relatively high number of scores in their previous two games, last Thursday's clash partially corrected that particular concern.
However, it was at the opposite end of the field that Dublin struggled five days ago, with far too many chances going abegging, misses that raised Kildare optimism of dethroning the champions.
With either Cork or Tipperary next up for Farrell's charges, the Na Fianna clubman recognises that there is sufficient room for improvement with the panel and that the next fortnight will prove quite instructive in preparation for their date with the Munster champions.
"One thing that is always especially relevant about this age group is that there is always something to work on.
"We are very grateful to be in the position that we are in and the Under 21 grade is all about learning and the development of players ahead of their hopeful elevation to senior ranks.
"As you go on in the championship, better teams will punish your errors and we have a few things to work on ahead of our All-Ireland semi-final.
"Certainly, how we have played to date wouldn't be good enough to beat some of the talented teams that are left in the championship.
"There is an upward curve at this stage of the tournament and some of our weaker areas, which have presented themselves over the course of our first three matches, will need to resolved if we are to have any hope of repeating last year's win," he said.
Given the increased and sometimes unrealistic expectations that accompany Dublin teams of all ages, certain achievements tend to be overlooked in the greater scheme of things.
Certainly, Farrell and his team's second successive Leinster title continues the county's excellent underage record of late and many of those players involved were central to Dublin's All-Ireland minor success back in 2012 in addition to last year's U21 title, a statistic that should be celebrated and acknowledged rather than taken for granted.
"I'm delighted for the lads that they have another Leinster medal and any championship is not easily won," said Farrell.
"It's a fair achievement to have won what they have won at both minor and Under 21 level and it reflects well on them in terms of their resolve, character and skill levels," he added.