Reigning champions Dublin host Longford at Parnell Park in the Leinster Under-21 Football Championship quarter-final on Wednesday.
Dublin steam-rolled their opponents throughout last year’s campaign and threaten to do the same again in 2013. Having beaten Louth 1-16 to 0-08 in the 2012 final, Dublin look even stronger this year. They hammered Carlow 4-27 to 0-02 in the first-round without ever leaving second-gear and a second consecutive All-Ireland title looks likely. Led by the backbone of an All Ireland-winning minor team, Dessie Farrell’s side are a class above the remaining teams in the Leinster Championship.
Wednesday’s game will be Longford’s first outing in this year’s championship. They lost out to Louth at this stage in 2012 and face a monumental challenge if they are to overcome the Metropolitans. This is one of the strongest Longford Under-21 teams in recent times, with many players forming part of the Leinter Minor Championship-winning team of 2010. Eugene McCormack’s side recently won the Hastings Cup final with a win over Cavan so spirits in the camp will be sky-high. However, this Dublin side are a rare breed and Longford will need everyone to perform to the best of their ability.
Dublin have a number of injuries to contend with, but their strength in depth is reflected in the team named by Dessie Farrell. Cormac Costello, Paddy Reid, Luke Fletcher, Seán Newcombe and Gavin Burke are all injured and will miss the game. Farrell has made three changes to the Dublin side that outclassed Carlow in the first-round. Ross McGowan replaces Michael Durcan in defence, while Stephen Cunningham will partner Emmet O Conghaile in midfield. Michael Gibbs loses out in the forward line with Paul Maguire starting on the wing. Shane McCarthy moves to centre-forward.
DUBLIN (v Longford): Lorcan Molloy (St Anne’s), Ross McGowan (Kilmacud Crokes),David Byrne (Naomh Olaf), Niall McGovern (Na Fianna), Eric Lowndes (St Peregrine’s), Conor Mulally (Cuala), Jack McCaffrey (Clontarf), Stephen Cunningham (St Sylvester’s), Emmett Ó Conghaile (Lucan Sarsfields), Paul Maguire (St Jude’s), Shane Carthy (Naomh Mearnóg), Danny Byrne (St Maur’s), Paul Mannion (Kilmacud Crokes), Adam Caffrey (Na Fianna), Ciarán Kilkenny (Castleknock).
Longford have no major concerns ahead of Wednesday’s game, but are yet to make their starting-fifteen public.
Players to Watch
Ciarán Kilkenny is without doubt the greatest prospect Dublin football has produced since Bernard Brogan burst onto the scene. He is a future All-Star. Kilkenny was in devastating form in the first-round win over Carlow, scoring 2-10. Since his return from Australia, the dual star has looked as sharp as ever and will be a thorn in Longford’s side on Wednesday.
Longford captain Pádraig McCormack is one of the elder lemons on the Longford team, making his under-21 début over two years ago. The Slashers will need McCormack to lead from the start on Wednesday night if they are to put a stop to the Dublin juggernaut that is blitzing everything in it’s path.
Dublin have talent in abundance and will easily overcome the Longford challenge. They are 2/5 to win the Leinster Championship with Boylesports.com.