Gavin: We have to spring into action
A POTENTIAL banana skin awaits Jim Gavin and his men as Dublin face reigning provincial champions, Wexford, in their Cadbury Leinster U21 Football Championship first round encounter in Enniscorthy tomorrow evening (7.30).
The Dubs have been training since January 1, with team manager Gavin more than satisfied with how preparations have fared over the past eight weeks.
"Things have been going very well for us in terms of our preparation since the turn of the year, and the application and attitude from all the panel in both training and challenge games has been of the highest order," said Gavin.
While an impressive performance would augur well for the coming campaign, a positive result for Dublin tomorrow is paramount given the knockout nature of the competition and Gavin's focus is aimed purely on tomorrow night and no further.
"Given the quality that Wexford possess, you have to look at this game in isolation.
"If you progress over the spring, then you can start to generate some momentum, but all we're looking for tomorrow is to come away with a win of any kind," he said.
Of course, Dublin's run to the All-Ireland title two years ago was almost derailed at the first hurdle where two late scores from captain Jonny Cooper kept their ambitions alive against Louth, emphasising the "no second chance" nature of U21 football.
"We lose roughly a third of the panel each year, so it's important that these players come through. It's crucial that we can harvest some of these players from minor level into our plans and a few of them have certainly impressed in training.
"We've also been lucky with others who were on the fringes of the panel last year and have really pushed on this year, and that can happen with players who just happen to develop at a later stage.
"It's still a very big challenge for the lads. Matthew O'Hanlon and Michael Regan are an excellent midfield pairing and they have very talented defenders in Michael Furlong and John Lacey, so we're under no illusions as to the task in hand," concluded Gavin, who also confirmed that Naomh Mearnóg's Kevin O'Brien would captain the side.