McEvoy happy to blow out cobwebs
DUBLIN U21 hurling manager John McEvoy cut a contented figure as he reflected on his side's ultimately comfortable 12-point win over Carlow in the Bord Gáis Energy Leinster U21 Hurling Championship quarter-final last Wednesday evening.
It was a far from perfect display by the Dubs given it was their first competitive outing of the year, but McEvoy was satisfied that their main ambition was realised, namely securing a home semi-final with Offaly tomorrow week.
“To be honest, we were just very happy to get the result. We went into the game respectful of Carlow.
“It was our first competitive game of the year and there was definitely an element of blowing off the cobwebs as we took our time to settle, but things improved as the match progressed and we were delighted with the attitude and commitment of all the panel on the night,” added the Laois native.
Dublin's scratchiness and opening night nerves were manifested in a series of poor wides and distribution into the forward-line in the opening half as McEvoy was quick to acknowledge.
“It definitely took us a while to settle and playing with the wind, our ball into the forwards wasn't great although I was still happy we had 19 shots on goal in the first half.
“When we got them into the dressing room at the interval, we emphasised the use of ball and improving our shot selection. That they took that on board was a pleasing aspect of the performance”, said McEvoy.
That Dublin improved immeasurably upon the restart was also down to their strength in depth with the contribution from the bench reflecting favourably on the options available to Dublin.
The displays of both Ciarán Brennan and Mark Schutte were highlighted by McEvoy with Brennan “very unlucky not to start” while dual player Schutte increased Dublin's ball-winning threat after half-time.
“All of the subs made a positive impression and in every area of the field we were looking for lads to step up to the plate,” added McEvoy.
The former All-Ireland Colleges winner with St Kieran's was keen to pay credit to the efforts of both Pat Gilroy and Anthony Daly in facilitating their panel members into McEvoy's squad, allowing a more cohesive approach in training.
“Anthony (Daly) has been excellent in allowing us access to the senior players. They have a huge match against Galway next Saturday yet he appreciates how important it is for us to have the lads training as much as is possible and that has definitely helped our preparations this year.”
Another positive to come from Wednesday evening was the continued rehabilitation from injury of Bill O'Carroll and with no injuries picked up from Wednesday night and Odhran Ó Maoiléadaigh expected to be available for selection for the semi-final, and Niall McMorrow probably ruled out McEvoy is looking forward to the Offaly encounter.
“There's never much separating us at any level. We'll be preparing for a right old tussle and we'd be hopeful of a good crowd as there's no better venue for a championship game than Parnell Park,” he concluded.