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'I think it did me well in the long-term, so I don't have many regrets about it' - focusing on hurling

Shane Barrett has his sights set on Galway next Sunday.

SHANE BARRETT HAS seen plenty Na Fianna club-mates excel on the football front with Dublin of late.

Shane Barrett Dublin hurler Shane Barrett. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

Last month Eoin Murchan, Glenn O’Reilly and Aaron Byrne were part of a Dublin team that swept to EirGrid All-Ireland U21 glory.

Johnny Cooper and Tomas Brady have been at the core of successful Dublin senior sides in recent years.

Conor McHugh looks set to make championship progress after a hugely promising league this spring.

Conor McHugh Dublin footballer Conor McHugh Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Aaron Byrne scores a goal Aaron Byrne scored a goal in Dublin's All-Ireland U21 final win. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

But for Barrett hurling has always represented the way forward, making his senior championship bow with Dublin as a teenager in 2015.

“Hurling was always number one for me. I stopped playing football when I think I was U16, I just focused on hurling.

“I think it did me well in the long-term, so I don’t have many regrets about it.”

The issues of selecting between hurling and football for talented underage players is a thorny one in Dublin, that has spilled over into the club game at times.

“Look, it’s a hard one to answer,” says Barrett.

“Obviously if they’re good at hurling and football they’ll want to play both. Slowly but surely, people have picked hurling as well more so than football.

“Obviously football is the dominant sport in Dublin, you can’t deny that they’re very successful, but it’s great if a player picks hurling, it’s a big boost.

“At club level I don’t think you should have to choose. Club is where you’re playing with your mates you grew up with. I think you should be allowed to play hurling and football at the top level with your club if you wish.

“In Na Fianna now that has changed where you can play both at the highest level. There were a couple of years where it was a bit of a grey area if you will. But now I think one helps the other.”

Barrett has been joined in the Dublin senior dressing-room this year by club-mate Donal Burke. The teenager caught the eye against Cork (0-8) and Waterford (1-7) with free-scoring displays.

“I’ve been playing with Donal in Na Fianna for the past good few years. It’s phenomenal when you look back on what he’s done.

“It’s no surprise that he’s come on. Even looking at the games, it’s a joy to watch someone like that come on from minor all the way up.

“He’s taken a chance and I don’t think he’s looked back since. He’s just pushed on.”

Donal Burke scores their first goal Donal Burke hit the net for Dublin against Waterford in March. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Dublin will hope those young players hit the ground running next Sunday, when they face the considerable task of taking on the league champions Galway.

Barrett nurses plenty regrets from an encounter with Galway last August, loosing out after extra-time in a Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21 semi-final.

“It was a long winter looking back on that,” admits Barrett.

“We had some opportunities to close the game out and take it away from them. Then coming to the end of extra-time they sort of got a run on us, closed it out, and we couldn’t come back.

“We set up for the first three months of training to beat Wexford. Once we beat them everything flowed in from that. And then to lose to Galway where we knew the game was there for us was frustrating.”

2017 Bord Gáis Energy U21 Hurling Championship Launch Shane Barrett at yesterday's Bord Gáis Energy U21 hurling championship launch. Source: Ramsey Cardy/SPORTSFILE

Dublin enter the match as underdogs but are hoping they can stage an ambush similar to what Cork managed against a heavily-fancied Tipperary team last weekend.

“There are similarities to the Tipperary and Cork game. Cork were underdogs, came in, and they just sort of threw everything they had at them from the start.

“That’s what we’re going to be trying to do against Galway. We’re planning on taking it to them.”

“You see that Cork win, it’s sort of blown the championship wide open in that sense.

“I think you take confidence from that. Even the younger lads on this Dublin team looking at that. That was a young Cork team that played there.

“So I don’t think there’s any reason they were looking at that saying they couldn’t do it as well.”

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Fintan O'Toole

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