Dublin U21s tipping away nicely ahead of Cats clash
Dublin u21 HURLERS
With Dublin making their provincial bow in just over ten weeks' time, U21 hurling manager Joe Fortune (inset) has expressed his satisfaction with preparations ahead of their seismic clash with Kilkenny on June 2.
In his second year in charge, Fortune feels the Dubs are in a stronger place in terms of strength and conditioning having had a greater time to spend with the panel over spring.
"We (the management team) came into the position relatively late last year and we had to concentrate almost exclusively on hurling, perhaps to the detriment of collective physical conditioning.
"I think that was a key area where we were at a disadvantage when we lost to Wexford in the Leinster Final.
"Thankfully, we have had the time this year to focus on that as well and having that extra time with the players has certainly been a help to us this year," added Fortune.
As is customary at this time of year, the Dubs have been pitting their wits on the challenge circuit as they look to fine tune their plans ahead of their Leinster opener.
Cork, Kilmallock, DCU, DIT, Clare and the Down senior team have offered Fortune an opportunity to assess the depth of his panel, given that seven potential starters are involved with Ger Cunningham's senior panel.
Dublin NHL quarter-final victory over Limerick on Saturday and their subsequent clash with Cork in the last four in three weeks' time might affect Dublin adversely but Fortune is very content with the relationship developed with the new senior manager.
"I was fortunate enough to have a great relationship with Anthony Daly and thankfully, the same applies with Ger," said the Wexford native.
"He has shown a huge interest in the well-being of our panel, as have all the senior selectors and players and although we don't have access to our senior players at present, I'm very happy with how all the lads are faring.
"To be fair, all the players have put in a great amount of effort since we got together and lads are putting their hands up.
"It's all about Kilkenny on the second of June and putting a performance together on the night and that's what we are working towards," said Fortune, who confirmed both Cormac Costello and Eric Lowndes have expressed their wish to be involved this year.