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Major numbers driving minors

THERE'S a sharpness to training with the Dublin minors. Big numbers. Healthy competition.

"That's one of the benefits of having two Dublin minor squads," outlines Stephen Hoary. Stephen is managing the minors with Eimear Butler and Joe O'Grady.

"It drives things on in training. It's not just a case of 20 players showing up and everybody knowing who the first 15 are.

"The players here fully realise that those on the second squad are quite capable of stepping up if needs be. It was a difficult task separating the 42 players into A and B squads.

"The training has been intense. You can only do that with big numbers. If you have small numbers, you can just do the standard training session."

The hard work is paying off. "We have played the senior teams of Armagh, Kildare and Dublin, and the girls have done really well. We were well able to compete in those matches. We have a high calibre of player, so we expect to do reasonably well."

In their championship group, the Dubs will host Tipperary and Kilkenny this month. On Sunday they had a handsome win in Derry.

Tipp and the Cats will pose stiffer questions. "They are the two teams that were in the All-Ireland U16 Championship final two years ago, so that's a tough ask. But we'll give it a lash, and see how we go," says Stephen.

Yet it's the bigger picture that is dominating the landscape. "We are thinking medium to long-term. We want to see these players progress onto the Dublin senior set-up and be as well prepared as they can be."

The group have been working under Dublin footballer Philly McMahon. "The game is evolving all the time," relates Stephen. "It's all about a whole lifestyle approach. It's about eating right, sleeping right, getting enough rest, and instilling good habits."