Thursday 27 October 2016

martin's minor dubs keen to find q mark

Five-in-a-row Leinster champs not content to rest on their laurels

SEVEN goals in the bank. Eleven points on the board. The fifth successive Leinster title in the bag.

But still, Dublin minor manager, Martin McDonnell, wasn't thinking of a picnic on Sandymount Strand.

Martin was reared in Raytown. Hard work was a way of life. Still is.

The area cherishes its sport. Loves its heroes. They lost one recently in Ray Treacy.

High standards are expected, on and off the pitch. And Martin is a leader of the Clann.

"We had a great campaign. But the only disappointment from the final against Kildare is that we conceded nine points," he reflected.


"Seven points was the highest number of points we conceded before the Leinster final, so we'll have to work on that in training."

It was a little detail in the big picture of another blue milestone for Dublin football.

"We are delighted that we have defended the Leinster title, Dublin's fifth in-a-row. It's a wonderful achievement.

"It's the work of the clubs that are providing these players for the county."

Jonny Magee was at Peregrine's watching the final. His daughter, Lauren, and Niamh O'Neill, played brilliantly at midfield.

Jonny was one of the best footballers of his generation. He played for the Dubs. And for the great Kilmacud All-Ireland champions. He's now managing Wicklow.

The quality of these minor marvels impressed him. Beautiful high fielding, polished passing, and the overall energy and conviction in the side.

Players from the length and breath of the county. A team built from the back. So solid was the Dublin defence that goalkeeper, Alex Ryan, didn't have a save to make in the final.

Full-forward, Shauna O'Hara, can leap like Fungi, while corner-forward, Emma Colgan, has darting pace and is not afraid to go for the cat flap.

Every girl on the pitch made a notable contribution. Their gifts were wrapped with industry. They are all talented. You have to be to make the cut at this level.

Making the squad is a fine accomplishment in itself. And so many more came near to getting the call.

"As we have always said, picking the squad was the hardest part of the job. There's so much quality in the county," says Martin.

"We have a panel of 33. Unfortunately, we can't name them all in the match programme.

"But some of the toughest matches we get all year are our own training games.

"There's keen competition for places. Players are aware that there are more than enough girls capable of coming in and taking the jersey."

On the Leinster Express, the Blues beat Westmeath, Kildare, Wexford, Laois, Offaly, and Kildare again in the final.

In those six games, the Dubs scored a whopping 23 goals and 85 points.

They only conceded three goals and 34 points.

But Cork in the All-Ireland semi-final on July 19th will represent a different challenge, as Martin relates.

"Two years ago, this Cork team beat us in the All-Ireland U16 final. And they had also beaten us two years previously at U14 level, so we are under no illusions."

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