Rónán Mac Lochlainn – 03 June 2014 12:00 AM
DUBLIN manager Joe Fortune has stressed the need for improvement following his side’s Leinster U-21 Hurling Championship opener against Laois last Wednesday evening.
The Dubs may have run out comfortable winners by the close but a sloppy opening period saw Laois largely control the initial exchanges before Colm Cronin’s goal helped settle the Dubs into a more consistent rhythm.
“No matter how much we spoke to the lads beforehand and how well prepared we had them, I think there was always going to be a bit of nerves around, especially after what had transpired over the previous two years.
“We have an awful lot of work to do to bring it up to the next level and we will work hard in the coming weeks on certain facets of our game that lacked the standard and quality that is required at this level. There was pressure and tension there on Wednesday night with an awful lot of people in the crowd with a huge grá for Dublin hurling so it was understandable to a degree that we started nervously,” said Fortune.
The control that the Dubs exerted on affairs after the break reflected well on Fortune’s charges with the depth in the panel highlighting the depth at the Naomh Mearnóg clubman’s disposal.
Cian Boland, in particular, took advantage of a flagging Laois challenge upon the restart with the St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh player showcasing his talent with a vibrant cameo full of direct running.
“Cian would have been very close to starting but he has very little hurling behind him and we were conscious of not expecting too much from him.
“He has massive attributes and is a very talented hurler. We just need him to get more game time under his belt and Wednesday’s display would have helped an awful lot in that respect,” he said.
Others such as Donal Gormley, AJ Murphy and Tom Devlin also showed their worth when introduced, increasing the options at Dublin’s disposal.
Fortune has stressed that his selection criteria is based largely on the form his panel have shown in training and challenge games, which has subsequently made for an intense level of competition within the squad.
“Lads are pushing very hard in training and they are putting their hand up both in training and with the form they’ve shown for their clubs.
“We are in a good place but it is important that we build from this win and get ourselves right for a difficult semi-final against either Westmeath or Carlow,” said the Wexford native.
Whether one of his stand-out performers from the Laois match, Chris Crummey, is available for the last four clash at the end of the month is open to question after the versatile Lucan Sarsfields player suffered a leg injury towards of the first-half.
The injury didn’t appear to affect Crummey in the second half as he made a series of excellent defensive interventions but further assessment after the game places the wing-back as a serious doubt for June 25.
“We have a slight worry about Chris, who is being monitored at present.
“He has a strain on his posterior cruciate and it could be up to four to six weeks before he is back.
“However, he is extremely driven and that would be a conservative estimate as to when he returns. He played so well the other night so we’d be anxious that he returns in time for the semi-final.”