Dublin wary of Barrow battle
U21s eye Carlow victory to make feast day extra special
PARADES and shamrocks will be the last thing on the minds of the Dublin U21 footballers tomorrow as they travel to take on a highly rated Carlow in Dr Cullen Park (4.0) for a St Patrick's Day showdown.
This Cadbury's Leinster semi-final test of the Dubs' credentials to retain their crown is going to be a stern one, a fact which is not lost on selector Shane O'Hanlon.
"They are a very good side", O'Hanlon said. "They were extremely unfortunate not to win a Leinster minor title three years ago and perhaps they should have won that day. We played against them in early February in a four-county league competition so we have seen them up close.
"However, that game will count for nothing on Wednesday as the championship is a different ball game."
Much of the talk surrounding Carlow is of their returning Aussie Rules rookie Brendan Murphy, who has been in terrific form for the senior side and the U21s.
O'Hanlon appreciates the prodigious talent of the Rathvilly man but is quick to point out that the Barrowsiders are far from a one-man team."He is a brilliant player, there's no doubt about that", says O'Hanlon.
"But they have other excellent footballers too. They were very impressive against both Offaly and Kilkenny."
One player who followers of the Dublin club scene will be aware of is full-forward Daniel St Ledger, who has played for UCD in the Evening Herald Dublin SFC. However, he is unavailable due to suspension.
But the Dubs are not without problems of their own and will still be without the services of Darragh Stapleton and Gerry Seaver, while Ted Furman and Alan McCarrick have to be content with a subs jersey after missing the Louth duel due to injury.
O'Hanlon was happy to reflect on that extra-time quarter-final victory over Louth and was full of praise for the Wee County men.
But he was also quick to acknowledge his own side's profligacy in front of goal - the Dubs kicked a massive 21 wides and any repeat tomorrow would surely signal their exit from the Championship.
"A lot of people did not give that Louth team the credit it deserved", mused O'Hanlon.
"We knew how tough that game was going to be and they were as good as any side we faced in Leinster last year.
"But we really need to take a higher percentage of our chances or else I don't think we'll survive to tell the tale."
Carlow's home advantage is another critical factor and there is a big crowd expected in Dr Cullen Park.
Indeed, there are massive hopes that this particular Carlow side can do what no team from the county has ever done before at U21 level: ensure that the Flood Cup sits proudly on the banks of the Barrow.
"The home advantage is a great boost for them. Added to that is the fact that I expect them to have a very strong support, which will be new territory for a lot of our lads.
Come tomorrow at teatime, O'Hanlon will hope that there will be an extra reason to celebrate than St Patrick's Day, but Carlow are sure to be very difficult opponents.
p See team selection, page 85