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Dublin: 8 °C Monday 9 December, 2019

5 talking points after Dublin's Leinster U21 final win against Meath

Dublin claimed their fourth Leinster U21 title in six years last night against Meath

Meath's Seamus Mattimoe and Dublin's Robbie McDiaid.
Meath's Seamus Mattimoe and Dublin's Robbie McDiaid.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

1. Dublin dynasty continues to strengthen

Dublin went clear at the top of the Leinster U21 football roll of honour last night as they claimed their 11th title. It’s their fourth crown in six years, a level of dominance they have not previously achieved before in this grade in such a short period of time.

Between 1984 and 2002, Dublin were absent from the Leinster U21 winners podium. But that drought is a distant memory now. Dublin have got their house in order at underage level and doing their business effectively has helped them churn out a series of successful young teams. The dynasty continues to strengthen with last night’s success further proof.

2. A night of attacking contrasts

Dublin were heavy favourites to win this game with their firepower up front an example of why they were being tipped as they had chalked up 5-35 in their previous two encounters. They may not have hit the net last night but posted a sufficient total to win the game.

Star man Paul Mannion may have been held scoreless but foraged tirelessly to win frees and set up points. 2012 All-Ireland minor winning duo Cormac Costello and Conor McHugh struck 0-8 between them. Shane Carthy strode forward from midfield for 0-3 while Gavin Burke jumped off the bench for 0-2.

In truth they were more capable of getting scores and it was a crucial ingredient in their victory when contrasted with Meath’s problems up front. The Royals struggled to pierce the Dublin rearguard as Dessie Farrell’s side smothered them with a massed defence. When Meath did shoot it was largely from unfavourable positions on the pitch. They hit eight wides in the opening period when they were on top and that cost them.

Bobby OÕBrien reacts to a missed chance Bobby O'Brien reacts to a missed chance. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

3. Dublin grateful to man between the posts

Aside from missing point opportunities, Meath’s hopes were also damaged by their failure to hit the back of the net. They only trailed by two points during the first-half when they were awarded a penalty but Lorcan Molloy dived to his right to beat away Bobby O’Brien’s drive for goal.

And Molloy stepped up again to deny Meath after half-time with a smart block after Conor Sheridan charged through the Dublin defence. Meath kept trying, largely due to the efforts of O’Brien at centre-forward, but needed a goal to really ignite their comeback. The outstanding Molloy ensured they would not raise a green flag.

4. Tame final fails to capture imagination

Perhaps the venue controversy was a factor with a neutral venue like O’Moore Park diminishing the atmosphere that could have created in Páirc Tailteann or Parnell Park. Perhaps the weather didn’t help as the game unfolded on a dreary, grey evening.

Perhaps Dublin’s superiority, which was evident from the early stages, was the crucial factor. But whatever the reason this was a tame final which failed to capture the imagination. Dublin accomplished what they sought to do and Meath tried hard to reel them in yet the game never truly sparked into life.

Neil Shortall dejected after the game Meath's Neil Shortall. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

5. Injuries emerge as Dublin turn to Ulster

Dublin now leave the Leinster campaign behind them and shift their focus to trying to claim a third All-Ireland U21 crown in five years. Their next test will be either against a Cavan team who are seeking the county’s fourth successive Ulster title or a Donegal team with marquee names like Patrick McBrearty and Ryan McHugh in their ranks.

As they plan an All-Ireland assault, Dublin will be hoping their injury woes will clear up. Cormac Costello limped off last night with a calf injury, Shane Carthy hurt his ankle near the end and Emmet Ó Conghaile – midfield on the 2012 U21 winning side – came off the bench as he battles back to full fitness. Those are three hugely talented players that Dessie Farrell would dearly love to have fit and ready at his disposal.

Dessie Farrell Dublin boss Dessie Farrell. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Injuries to Cormac Costello and Shane Carthy take gloss off Dubs Leinster U21 win

Dublin see off Meath to claim their fourth Leinster U21 title in six years

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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