Dublin chairman hopes minor success will have knock-on effect

DUBLIN chairman John Bailey is confident that the county’s underage hurling successes will have a knock-on effect at senior level.

Their minors may have won a first Leinster MHC title since 1983 at the weekend, but that was by no means an isolated example of the county's ever-burgeoning abilities at underage levels.

The next big test of any renaissance comes in Carlow next week when their U21 side face Kilkenny in the provincial decider.

"The hope is that, every year, you would get two or three players from each group who would go on to the U21s or seniors and keep them there," said Bailey.

"That's the secret. You need to keep the numbers ticking over. It's the same even at minor level. A good few of those lads on Sunday will be eligible again next year and that means we won't be starting from scratch again next season."

Five years ago, the current development squad system was rolled out from U13 level up. The weekend winners are the first to come through four straight years of that programme. In both hurling and football, the development systems are paying impressive dividends.

As Bailey points out, the payoff is being seen at club and schools levels as well as inter-county level with underage sides like Kilmacud Crokes and St Sylvester's successful in the recent Féile weekends.

"The county board is always getting criticised over hurling in Dublin, but you need foundations to be lain and that's what we're trying to do. Sunday's result was brilliant but it's still only one Leinster minor title and we have to build on that."

With the SRC plan coming online, Dublin will have 1 million to pour into football and hurling underage development for each of the next five years.

Former inter-county players in both codes are being door-stepped to get involved and the plan is for every club in the county to have a coach by the year 2010.

For hurling, though, the biggest challenge still appears to be hanging onto players in the face of the more glamorous and high-profile advances of football even if Bailey claims differently.

"Our games are not in competition," is the chairman's contention. "Players are able to play both codes in Dublin. That's never been a problem. Saying football is taking away players from hurling is too simple. There are other factors like the pressure of exams, travelling and money."

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