Friday's final set to crackle
Dublin hurling final to glow under Donnycarney bulbs
KILMACUD manager, Ollie Baker, is not too long in the job. But he has been immensely impressed with the industry of Dublin hurling.
Crokes work harder than most at the craft. They produced Dublin's first All-Star, Mick Bermingham.
There's not too many of those around. But St Jude's have one - Danny Sutcliffe.
Jude's are preparing for their first Dublin Senior Hurling Championship final.
They are only a Ger Cunningham puck away from the modern day masters of the small ball, Ballyboden St Enda's, and next door to the most celebrated club of them all, Faughs.
The final is under lights this Friday (7.45). The candles will add a slice of razzmatazz. The last time the final took place under the Donnycarney bulbs was in 2007 when Boden won the first of their five-in-a-row, defeating St Vincent's.
There was a fine crowd at the semi-final double bill, and the Bank Holiday Friday feeling will put more on the gate.
Crokes were recent winners of the crown in 2012, beating Cuala. There were 5,000 at that game. There's every chance that figure can be topped.
Crokes overcame the champs in the semi-final. A big result in anybody's language.
"We were delighted, but at the same time it was only the semi-final," noted Ollie Baker.
"Winning a semi-final is all very well, but they don't hand you the county cup for doing that."
Ollie felt that Kilmacud's five-point half-time cushion was a telling factor. "We expected Boden to come back at us. They haven't been champions here for six of the last seven years for nothing."
Boden's dominance in the capital has lifted all. And the man from Clare can see where his Banner colleague benefited with the county side.
"It's no co-incidence that Dublin hurling has improved so much. The clubs are putting huge work into it.
"It's just massive - night after night and every weekend. That is the reason the game has come on so much."
Jude's find themselves in a hurling heartland. And having an All-Star in the locality inspires the kids. The Jude's Ball Alley is always busy. There's a huge Ball Wall in Glenalbyn, plus an indoor hurling alley.
The sight of children carrying hurleys on the streets of Templeogue fills the Jude's boss, Sean Fallon, with joy.
And reaching the final will increase the game's profile even more in the area.
"It's just massive for the club. Reaching our first semi-final, and then our first final is magic."
But it hasn't been a one season success. Far from it. Sean's thoughts, and gratitude, are with those who have ploughed the Tymon turf before.
"Those are the people that made it happen. They put such time into it. And we owe such much to those that came before us."
Jude's had a tricky test in the semi-final against O'Toole's, seasoned campaigners at this level.
Jude's got there by a point. They defended brilliantly. They brought such desire to the stage.
"It was a super match," recalls Sean. And, having given their all, as usual, Joey Morris and the Larriers were the first to stretch out the hand and wish them well on their big day.
"We have huge respect for O'Toole's. Beating Crumlin was another big thing for us. Our game against Ballinteer was superb," notes Sean, whose side drew with last year's finalists, Lucan Sarsfields, before knocking out their nearest and dearest, Faughs, in the quarter-final.
Crokes are the only team in the competition to boast a 100 per cent record, and they also collected their first-ever All-Ireland Sevens last month. The Baker boys lost to Boden in last year's quarter-final, and Ollie doffs his cap to Jude's.
He sees them as another example "of a club putting in the hours," and he has no doubt they will put in the hard yards on Friday night.
He doesn't dwell on the fact that Crokes will carry the burden of favourites. "For us, it's all about making sure the preparation is right and that we deliver a performance. Anything less will not be good enough."