Boss Baker admits Crokes had to 'dig deep' to dethrone 'proud champions' Ballyboden
GER CUNNINGHAM drove through the gates of Parnell Park last Saturday afternoon.
A blue sky over Donnycarney. The start of a fresh dawn.
Semi-final Saturday in the Dublin Senior Hurling Championship.
Ger saw some assured goalkeeping. One delivery from Brendan McLoughlin must have brought him back to the Cooley Mountains. And the Jude's number one, Graham Nolan, made one of the saves of the season to deny Peadar Carton.
And then there was the everlasting All-Star quality of Gary Maguire, and the respected Crokes custodian, Matt Collins.
It was no coincidence that only one goal was scored in the two matches. And even Ger in his prime wouldn't have stopped Seán McGrath's gem.
A fine crowd showed up. Conditions were ideal. And it will be Kilmacud Crokes against St Jude's in the final.
Crokes last lifted the prize in 2012. Since 2007, Boden have won it every other year except that season.
The Crokes chief, Clare's Ollie Baker, had words of consolation after the Stillorgan side had prevailed in the second of the semi-finals, 1-16 to 0-12.
"Hats off to Ballyboden," he reflected out on the pitch as the evening chill descended on Donnycarney.
"They came out in the second half and threw everything at us. They are proud champions. And they showed why they have won the last six out of seven titles here in Dublin. They are a fantastic team. They are a fantastic bunch of men. They are a great club.
"We knew it wasn't going to be enough to come here and just play hurling against Boden. We had to dig deep.
"We didn't start the second half well. The goal we got came from one of our few attacks in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
"We were lucky we had a four-point cushion going in at half time that allowed us to lie on the ropes for a small little bit.
"For the last 15 minutes of the game, we came out and attacked. We are just delighted we got over the line and that we have a county final to prepare for now."
Jude's were appearing in their first semi-final. Now it gets even better following their 0-15 to 0-14 win over O'Toole's.
And next Saturday the Templeogue village will be holding its breath again as the Jude's footballers face Plunkett's in the Dublin SFC semi-final.
They'll endeavour to show the same resolve that their artful stick-men brought to HQ.
Beating the Larriers is never an easy day's work. And the Jude's manager, Sean Fallon, had graceful words.
"Genuinely, we have huge respect for O'Toole's," he said. "We have a young team and we said to them we want to be like O'Toole's. They are always so committed. Their work-rate for each other is tremendous. They are a superb team.
"We were under no illusions.
"We were two points down at half time (0-10 to 0-8). We felt we were a bit nervy. But O'Toole's have such experience. They are just a wonderful hurling team. They come back year after year.
"It was a real honest contest. It could have gone either way. It was a super game.
"It was our first semi-final, and now to be in the final is absolutely magic. It means so much to the club. And we owe so much to the people who were here before us."