O’Brien: All-Ireland or bust

Dublin U21 captain Kevin O’Brien says an All-Ireland title has been the only goal for the team this year.

Two days out from their All-Ireland U21 final with Roscommon, the heavy favourites for the Clarke Cup are comfortable with their billing.

Having lost their crown in the first round of Leinster last year, the priority was to ensure they didn’t fall into the same trap again.

“Coming from Dublin, it’s always to do with winning the All-Ireland,” said O’Brien. “No disrespect to the Leinster championship — we’ve bigger goals.

“Our aim at the start of the year was to win the All-Ireland and we set out to do that. The hardest thing so far was the first round, getting over the first game and then getting on a roll.

“You can play as many practice games as you want but there’s nothing like the championship.”

Naomh Mearnóg man O’Brien exudes an air of confidence and dismisses the idea Dublin aren’t battle-hardened going into the game in Tullamore.

“We can’t control what the papers or the bookies say. We’ve been favourites in every game.

“People are saying we got an easy ride in a lot of games but against Westmeath we got a few lucky goals in the second half that kind of make us pull away.

“People look at the scoreline and think we hammered them but it was a very hard game. Even against Cork, we won by six points but we were playing up until the last minute.”

The U21s have welcomed an influx of the minors, including promising forward Ciarán Kilkenny, who lost out to Tipperary in last year’s All-Ireland final.

O’Brien said: “Obviously, they were unfortunate to lose the All-Ireland final last year but they can put things right on Sunday.”


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