DUBLIN’S reward for their first provincial title since 2007 is an All-Ireland semi-final in early August, but that holds little significance at present as the Dubs can deservedly bask in the glory of what was a performance of great composure and maturity. The Dubs will now enjoy a lengthy break ahead of their last-four encounter, but manager Shay Boland is merely focusing on what was another significant afternoon for underage hurling in the county.
PLANNED “To be honest, we haven’t at any stage looked beyond today, so I’ve no real thoughts of what’s planned for the coming weeks. “The lads will take a break of a week or so before we get them back and focus on the rest of the campaign,” reflected Boland on Sunday’s 1-14 to 1-11 victory over Kilkenny. “We’re absolutely delighted with the win though. It has been coming for a long, long time. The door was opened and we stepped right through. “We weren’t looking to just compete here. We came here to win and win we did. “Maybe we could have won with a bit more to spare, but we don’t make things easy for ourselves but we got there in the end.”
Certainly, the final scoreline could have offered a more accurate reflection of Dublin’s supremacy throughout, but much of their excellent approach play was spoiled by some errant shooting, with 15 wides over the hour a cause of concern for Boland. “Our forward play is a bit of a worry for us to be honest. We’re putting up decent enough scores but we’re not actually scoring goals like we were earlier in the year. There’s not big scores being put up against us, thankfully. “Wides are definitely an issue but it’s just something that we’ll need to address over the coming weeks,” said the St Oliver Plunkett/Eoghan Ruadh clubman.
However, to dwell on the negatives would be churlish given their performance and Boland was quick to acknowledge the level-headed nature of his panel, who took the challenge of a provincial final in their stride. “The bunch are very confident in their own ability and are very focused. They have great determination and a great attitude. You couldn’t fault them and they fully deserved what they got. “I was getting a bit worried about how calm they were beforehand and I was very calm myself which wouldn’t be like me. WINNING “I suppose the safety net of having another match was always there but we weren’t interested in that at all. We just wanted to win Leinster, keep winning matches and keep moving on in the right direction.
Ultimately, we’ll see where that takes us.” Dublin’s hunger in the tackle was a feature of their display and a crucial factor in their victory, with Boland thrilled that work on the training ground was replicated in the white heat of battle. “That’s what we work on in training, in our hunger and attitude. When the ball is there, it’s there to be won and and in fairness we won an awful lot of those 50/50 challenges and even when they got possession we closed them down well and didn’t lose our discipline in our tackling, which is really refreshing,” stressed Boland. “Maybe we let them into the game a bit in the end but look, that’s always going to happen. It was very warm out there and a good team like Kilkenny would always be due a decent spell or two. “We also used our panel well I thought. We have an excellent panel. It’s very difficult to pick a team and panel for any of the games and we’re delighted with the contribution of all the lads today.”
The fatigue question, particularly among Dublin’s dual players never materialised. Eric Lowndes, Ciarán Kilkenny, Cormac Costello and Emmet Ó Conghaile all contributed handsomely following their midweek heroics against Kildare in the Minor Football Championship semi-final and Boland is full of admiration and respect for what this quartet, alongside captain Chris Crummey, bring to his panel. “Those lads are going through the time of their lives. To be out here again next week is great for them and hopefully they can win another Leinster medal,” he said. “Their attitude all year has been absolutely top drawer. There’s been a full commitment given by them to train and play for both. “There has been 100 per cent effort and 100 per cent commitment towards both teams. Ourselves and the football management have worked very well in managing their time. “It was tough for them with the semi-final (v Kildare) on Wednesday but they rested up well and were very sharp (last Sunday).
FUTURE “I’ve had almost all of these lads since they were under-16 and from the very first minute with them, they’ve been earmarked as championship players for the future. “Chris (Crummey) is only one of a number of players to have that right attitude. “I wouldn’t single him out today but he is a natural born leader. “He’s very calm and collected and does his talking out on the pitch. He’s great with the lads and we’d be very happy with him.” Dublin will “tip along” for the coming weeks with plenty to work on, but also many things in their favour and a prolonged summer campaign seems likely given the attitude and skill at manager Boland’s disposal. – Rónán Mac Lochlainn- Evening Herald