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Monday 11 December 2017

Young Dubs marchon blue brick road

Dublin U16's on the same path as their illustrious predecessors

THE Blue Danube will keep on flowing with gusto. That's the verdict of the Dublin U16 manager, Ken Nyhan.

The young Dubs lost Saturday's All-Ireland U16 Championship final to Cork, but the future is paved with promise.

"No doubt about it," declares Ken. "I think Dublin will have the makings of a very good minor team next year.

"You'll have this U16 crew going on, and there are many girls from this year's minor squad who will be eligible again.

"So there certainly be a fine pick there. And looking at these U16's, I feel that this campaign will certainly benefit them going forward. Absolutely."

When Ken and his cohorts got the job, picking the final panel was among the most difficult tasks of all.

His management colleagues included Paul O'Hara, Lisa Heavey and Lisa Byrne.

"There's so much talent in Dublin. It was no easy job."

Yet he relished the journey. The Dubs stormed through Leinster.

They had wins against Kildare, Wicklow, Laois, Westmeath and Meath.

And they had to show character in overcoming Galway in the All-Ireland semi-final.

"Yes, they struck to their guns in that one. It went to extra-time, but we got there in the end.

"And on Saturday it was the same. They kept at it, even in the dying stages.

"Cork were the champions, and they had several girls who played last season.

"Yet we played some good football. We lost the toss and Cork had the wind in the first half.

"But they only led by four points at half-time, so it was very much game on. At one stage, we got it back to two points.

"Then a ball came back off our upright, and they got a goal from it. So instead of trailing by two points, we found ourselves five behind, and we found that hard to claw back.

"Still, we nearly got a goal with about two minutes to go, and if that had have gone in, who knows what would have happened."

Cork won it by 4-7 to 2-7 at the finish. Last term, they also defeated the Dubs in Birr.

Saturday's duel took place at the JK Bracken GAA club in Templemore.

It was a fabulous encounter. The ball hardly paused for breath.

The standard of play from both sides sparked the applause.

The road to the final, and indeed the final itself, will linger in Ken's memory.

"I have to say it was one of the most enjoyable campaigns that I was ever involved in.

"The application of the girls was just so impressive. They put such a huge amount of effort into it.

"They had a real team ethic. They were so professional in their attitude and they just got on with it.

"And they certainly enjoyed the experience. They were just a superb group to be associated with."

The players came from every corner of the county, representing 18 clubs. And the style of their football, and their modest nature, won many friends.

Dublin last won the All-Ireland U16 crown in 2010. That crew included present seniors, Leah Caffrey, Molly Lamb, Siobhan Woods, Sarah McCaffrey, Emma McDonagh, Deirdre Murphy and Ciara Trant.

All those players won All-Ireland U21 medals last May. And, as Ken relates, this year's super sixteens can follow a similar road.

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