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6 Dublin and Kildare players to watch in tonight's Leinster U21 football final

Páirc Tailteann in Navan is the venue for tonight’s EirGrid Leinster U21 decider.

1. Eric Lowndes (Dublin)

The St Peregrine’s club man burst to prominence on the Dublin minor football and hurling teams that contested the 2012 All-Ireland finals. He enjoyed success with the footballers on that occasion and progressed to win an All-Ireland U21 medal last year.

He may have been a half-forward last season but his most natural position is in the half-back line, where he has shone this spring at U21 level. A NUI Maynooth Sigerson Cup player this year, Lowndes has the capacity to kick on and challenge for a place in Jim Gavin’s highly-competitive senior defensive unit. Tonight he’ll be part of the bedrock of Dublin’s U21 hopes.

Eric Lowndes Eric Lowndes Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

2. David Hyland (Kildare)

Athy club man Hyland was full-back on the Kildare side that won the Leinster U21 championship in 2013 and thus offers plenty experience for the Lilywhites this year. He’s graduated to the senior squad as well and has played Sigerson Cup football recently for NUI Maynooth. Hyland will be central to Kildare’s hopes tonight of stifling Dublin’s heralded attack as he seeks to collect a second Leinster U21 medal.

Eoghan O'Gara and David Hyland Kildare's David Hyland in action against Dublin's Eoghan O'Gara in the Allianz football league last year. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

3. Shane Carthy (Dublin)

Last year Carthy was man-of-the-match in Dublin’s Leinster U21 final success over Meath but he then missed out on the All-Ireland campaign after undergoing treatment for depression. It’s been heartwarming to see him back starring on the pitch in 2015 for the county senior and U21 sides.

Dessie Farrell’s U21 outfit have been aided by the presence of Carthy in directing midfield play. He shot 1-1 in the quarter-final victory over Laois and demonstrated his ability to put scores on the board. Kildare will hope to quell Carthy’s influence tonight.

Shane Carthy Shane Carthy in action against Longford in last month's Leinster U21 semi-final. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

4. Neil Flynn (Kildare)

Maynooth club man Flynn smashed home a terrific goal in Kildare’s semi-final win over Meath, a strike that effectively sealed their progress. He hit 1-6 in all that night and had previously contributed 1-1 in the quarter-final success over Offaly.

Flynn is still eligible for the U21 grade next year – he was part of the Kildare minor team that lost out to Roscommon at the All-Ireland quarter-final stage in 2013. Tonight he’ll be a key attacker as Kildare try to unlock the Dublin defence.

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Neil Flynn Kildare's Neil Flynn. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

5. Conor McHugh (Dublin)

McHugh was crowned the best U21 footballer in the country last year. In a forward line packed with stars like Paul Mannion and Cormac Costello, it was Na Fianna’s McHugh who caused Roscommon most damage with his 1-6 haul in last May’s All-Ireland final.

He’d showcased his talents on an All-Ireland minor winning side and for the DCU team that won the Sigerson Cup recently. And the Dublin U21′s have also benefitted from McHugh’s class as he’s shot 0-11 in their two games to date in Leinster. Dublin will hope for more of the same tonight.

Conor McHugh Dublin's Conor McHugh at the launch of this year's EirGrid All-Ireland U21 football championship. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

6. Niall Kelly (Kildare)

Like his Athy clubmate Hyland, Kelly was also part of the Kildare U21 side that swept to Leinster glory in 2013. He shot 0-3 in that final win over Longford and was one of the principal architects of that winning team managed by Kieran McGeeney.

Much would have been expected of him at U21 level this year given his exposure to senior football in recent seasons while he also played on the UCD team that contested this year’s Sigerson Cup semi-final. Kelly’s influence hasn’t been diminished at U21 level as he posted 0-5 against Offaly and 0-4 against Meath. A player that Dublin will be keeping a close eye on tonight.

Niall Kelly Niall Kelly in action against Meath in last year's Leinster senior football championship. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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