Andrew Foley and Kildare’s Mark Sherry. Picture: Stephen McCarthy

ANDREW Foley is aiming big this season, with the Dublin Under-21 side, telling GazetteSport that the team’s target “has to be an All Ireland, otherwise what is the point?”
The Dublin age-group side face off against Kildare in the Leinster Final in Pairc Tailteann in Navan on April 2, a four day delay from the original schedule match at O’Moore Park in Portlaoise, and while Foley is aiming high, he recognises Dublin are slightly fortunate to be where they are.
“Laois were favourites against us in the quarter-finals, I think,” he explains. “And we barely managed to get past them. Meath wasn’t easy in the semis either and, on another day, they could easily have won. We won’t be taking Kildare lightly.”
A bonus for the final is the return of Ballyboden St Enda’s players Shane Clayton and Colm Basquel, with the pair having played only minor roles in the semi-final, which fell 48 hours after their All-Ireland club title win on St Patrick’s Day.
Dublin have a strong history at Under-21 level recently, winning the All-Ireland in 2014, and losing out in heart-breaking fashion at the semi-final stage to a developing Tipperary side – a game that Foley remembers well – last time around.
“We don’t really compare to the previous season, as the team is so different,” he said. “There are a few players who are also involved with the senior side, though, and there’s a lot of experience at under-21 level in the team.”
Last season was a particularly strenuous one for Foley, with his club side Clontarf progressing to the almost unprecedented level of semi-finalists in the Dublin championship, meaning a lot of crossover between the two sides for Foley.
Clontarf’s status has grown exponentially over the past few years, firstly with the emergence of young Dublin star Jack McCaffrey, and then through their impressive club form.
“Communication – talking to the management – is critical when you get that kind of overlap,” Foley explains. “There’s a great buzz down at Clontarf at the moment; Jack is the first person we’ve had of his status since Noel McCaffrey [Jack’s dad, who starred for Dublin in the 80s], so it’s been really inspirational, especially for the young lads.”
With the Under-21 panel an ever more reliable road to senior success – Paul Mannion, McCaffrey and Cormac Costello have all graduated in recent years – Foley is well on the way to offering some notable inspiration of his own.