Sunday, Croke Park, 1.30pm, (Ref: David Hughes, Carlow)
Latest from the medics and management…Dublin have kept faith with the side that claimed Leinster honours as manager Shay Boland has resisted the temptation to make changes.
DUBLIN MH: Cian Mac Gabhann (Kilmacud Crokes); Shane Barrett (Na Fianna), Cian OCallaghan (Cuala), Eric Lowndes (St Peregrine’s) ; Eoghan O’Donnell (Whitehall Colmcille), Robert Murphy (Kilmacud Crokes), Seán McClelland (Lucan Sarsfields); Cormac Costello (Whitehall Colmcille), Colm Cronin (Cuala); Conor McHugh (Na Fianna), Seán Treacy (Cuala); Caolan Conway (Kilmacud Crokes); Oisín ORorke (Kilmacud Crokes), Cian Boland (St Oliver Plunketts/Eoghan Ruadh), Paul Winters (St Brigids)
Clare manager Eamonn Fennessy has yet to reveal the team that he will field for the clash.
CLARE MH: TBC
Checking the odds…Dublin are 4/5 favourites with Clare priced at 5/4 and the draw is available at 8/1.
Clues from the form guide…Both teams have bounced back from extra-time defeats in their respective provincial championship openers. Clare lost out to Waterford by 1-20 to 3-13 on May 2nd while three days later Dublin were bettered by 0-22 to 1-17 by Wexford. However both have recovered manfully to plough back into contention.
Clare were excellent in despatching Cork by 0-18 to 1-9 in their Munster backdoor clash and held their nerve to survive a Limerick onslaught with an extra-time semi-final victory in Ennis by 1-19 to 2-14. The Munster final brought disappointment in the form of a 1-16 to 1-12 defeat by Tipperary yet they then blitzed Ulster champions Down, 3-19 to 0-5, to secure a place here. Dublin thrashed Carlow 4-24 to 0-3, prevailed against Kilkenny by 1-12 to 0-10 before finally claiming the Leinster title with a 2-15 to 1-14 victory over Wexford.
The game breakers are…For Dublin Paul Winter has been their standout attacker so far and after firing 1-5 against Wexford in the provincial decider, much will depend on how he fares. Cian Boland and Conor McHugh also provide scoring inspiration up front while Cormac Costello, a shining light for the minor footballers this year, is a vital figure at midfield while Sean McClelland and Eric Lowndes are experienced figures at the back.
Clare minor attacker Bobby Duggan. Pic: INPHO/Lorraine O’Sullivan
From Clare’s viewpoint, Jamie Shanahan is integral to their hopes as he has picked up Munster minor medals for the past two years and also starred on the colleges hurling stage for Ardscoil Rís. Clarecastle’s Bobby Duggan has consistently impressed in their forward line and is a brilliant freetaker as well while Niall Deasy and Shane O’Donnell look other excellent prospects up front. At the back Aidan McGuane and Conor Cleary help form a strong half-back line while goalkeeper Eibhear Quilligan is a solid presence between the posts.
Gazing into the crystal ball…Dublin hurling could do with an All-Ireland minor final appearance given that their senior and U21 sides flatlined earlier this summer. They will be facing a Clare side here in a repeat of the counties 2010 All-Ireland minor semi-final when the Banner narrowly prevailed. Dublin have greatly improved as the campaign has progressed but Clare are well-organised and have a couple of match-winners in Shanahan and Duggan. It’s likely to be extremely tight and is difficult to call but if Clare can hold Winters, they may just edge it and round off an excellent week after the county U21 side’s success in Wednesday night’s Munster final.