Cork Cat Matt is impressed with Dublin 'keepers
ONE of Matt Collins' heroes, Ger Cunningham, will be in the audience tonight.
Matt, the Kilmacud number one, is from Cork. Ger Cunningham was an idol.
Now he's the Dublin manager. And Matt is getting ready for his second county final with Crokes.
Two years ago, Matt kept goal, and a clean sheet, as the Stillorgan side defeated Cuala in the decider.
He was rewarded with a Dubs Star award that season, and it was an accolade that meant much.
He has high regard for the quality of goalkeeping that exists in the capital.
On championship semi-final day, he was looking down the pitch at one of the best in the country, Gary Maguire.
Alan Nolan, Gary's deputy for years, underlined the standard of the city custodians by earning a spot in the All Star's nominations.
And there are several other fine goalies around. The former Dublin top Cat, Brendan McLoughlin, is still a respected member of the gate-keeper's union.
Graham Nolan of Jude's proved his worth in the semi-final.
"I have been impressed with the 'keepers that I have come across, and I think the quality is improving all the time," states Matt.
He has always been a keen student of the art. From early on, he wanted to be a goalie.
He'd study 'keepers like Peter Schmeichel, Cunningham and Martin Coleman from his own 'home' club, Ballinhassig. Matt wore the Cork jersey at minor, U21 and intermediate level before work as a teacher in the blue smoke came a-calling.
He's relishing life between the Stillorgan sticks. And, from close quarters, he has seen the rise of the sliotar.
"The standard in the Dublin championship is top-class. Brilliant. It really is a good competition."
Jude's are one of the young clubs riding on the Dublin development. Matt rates their progress.
"We played Jude's in a league game this season out in their place. There was nothing in the game. It was very tight, score for score.
"There weren't many spectators present. It wasn't championship. It was just a league game, but they were so up for it, so we know what to expect."
Getting over the champions, Ballyboden St Enda's, was a big day at the office. The previous year, Boden had knocked out the then holders, Crokes, in the quarter-final.
"We felt no pressure going in against Boden in the semi-final. They were the boys with the title on the line.
"It was a decent performance against Boden, but at the same time that display won't be good enough for the final. We'll have to lift it again."
Crokes will go in as the favourites. Matt's ears are closed to that type of talk. "We won it in 2012, but that doesn't make any difference now."