Returning faces make Dublin favourites to retain under-21 title

Wexford and Laois play for chance to meet All-Ireland champions

Dublin’s Conor McHugh: man-of-the-match in last year’s under-21 football championship final. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Dublin’s Conor McHugh: man-of-the-match in last year’s under-21 football championship final. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

 

With new title sponsors EirGrid on board another All-Ireland under-21 football championship gets underway on Wednesday, beginning with three opening round ties in Leinster. At stake in the Wexford against Laois clash is a shot at reigning Leinster and All-Ireland under-21 football champions Dublin.

Louth will also play Carlow at Darver, while Longford will also play Wicklow at Newtowncashel, all three games down for 7.30.

Wexford face Laois at the Bellefield grounds in Enniscorthy, with the winners there progressing to play Dublin the following Wednesday night.

Favourites

Dublin, however, remain favourites to win back both the provincial and All-Ireland title outright, helped by the fact they are managed once again by Dessie Farrell, who guided them to glory last year, and also feature several returning players from their 2014 panel, including Conor McHugh.

McHugh has already demonstrated his fine form by helping DCU win back the Sigerson Cup over the weekend, playing a typically influential role in the extra-time win over UCC, although he was called ashore early by manager Niall Moyna, as a precautionary measure.

McHugh was man-of-the-match, scoring 1-6, when Dublin defeated Roscommon to win last year’s All-Ireland under-21 title, and he also earned the Hero of the Future award.

“We’re not much different to where we were at last year, waiting on either Laois or Wexford, two very strong teams, very hard to call so whoever we do play will be tough,” said McHugh, speaking at the championship launch. “We’ve lost a few from last year. . . Still I think we’ve nine starters back from last year. So that’s quite a few. We’d be happy enough.”

Each of the provincial championships will continue until early April, with both All-Ireland semi-finals set for April 18th (Connacht v Ulster, and Leinster v Munster), with the final down for May 2nd. As part of the new sponsorship, EirGrid honour the 21standout players over the course of the championship.

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