These are tremendous times for hurling in the capital. The All-Ireland Feile na nGael title is residing in Dublin following Kilmacud Crokes magnificent victory in Cork last month. Then came a Leinster minor title which followed wins over Kilkenny and Wexford in the semi-final and final respectively.
Thirty three years have passed since Dublin last won in this grade with a team that included current senior football selector Dave Billings, whose son Cathal lines out at left half back on tonight’s team.
Their selectors have made three changes from the side which defeated Offaly in the semi-final. Alan McCrabbe takes over at full forward for the injured Graham Morris who hasn’t recovered from a hand injury sustained in the last outing.
Keith Nolan returns from an ankle injury to replace Dave Byrne at right half-back, while James Duffy is at left half-forward at the expense of Stuart Mullen.
Champions Kilkenny will include two seniors on their team, Richie Power and Eoin Larkin, but they are without ‘Cha’ Fitzpatrick who broke a bone in his hand in a recent club game, while Ciaran Hoyne doesn’t start after a lengthy injury lay-off.
In his first season in charge, Cats’ coach Adrian Finan is concerned about the rise of Dublin hurling and has cautioned his charges to take nothing for granted tonight.
“Dublin’s surge hasn’t happened overnight. We’ve been noticing it over the last couple of years and it hasn’t come as any great surprise,” said Finan.
“Already this year they have beaten Kilkenny in the Leinster minor semi-final and proved it was no fluke by going on to take the title against Wexford.
“This is Dublin’s third final in four years at this level and on the law of averages, they are due a win. With half of last year’s winning team available, we’ll start favourites, but I’m expecting Dublin to come at us with all guns blazing looking to build on their minor success.”
KILKENNY (U21 HC v Dublin): D. Fogarty (Erins Own); S. Maher (Tullaroan), J. Tennyson (Carrickshock), S. Cummins (Tullogher/Rosbereon); J. Dalton (Shamrocks), PJ Delaney (Fenians), D. Cody (James Stephens); E. O’Gorman (Emeralds), M. Rice (Carrickshock); A. Murphy (Clara), E. Larkin (James Stephens), W. O’Dwyer (Mullinavat); E. Reid (Shamrocks), R. Power (Carrickshock), D. McCormack (James Stephens).
DUBLIN (U21HC v Kilkenny): A Nolan; G O’Meara, C O’Brien, D O’Reilly; K. Nolan, R Fallon, C Billings; M Carton, W Lowry; E Moran, T Sweeney, J Duffy; A McCrabbe, P Carton, A Glennon. Subs: S Lane, R Trainor, P Bergin, D Byrne, S Sullivan, S Mullen, G Morris, M Griffin.