Cuala bid to defy odds against Crokes
Cuala and Ballyboden St Enda's will hope to avail of home advantage when they face Kilmacud Crokes and Na Fianna respectively in the semi-finals of the Dublin U21 'A' Hurling Championship this Saturday afternoon.
At Shankill, Cuala will look to the likes of Conor Gough, Mark Schutte, Adam Hudson and brothers Colm O'Farrell and Killian O'Farrell to help overcome hot favourites Kilmacud Crokes.
Having won three successive Minor 'A' titles, Crokes have the required talent and big-match experience to enter the match with great confidence and their win over a talented St Jude's in the quarter-final suggests that success can be replicated at the U21 grade.
Kevin O'Loughlin was the scorer-in-chief that day and with players of the calibre of Jack Doughan, Seán McGrath, Naomhán Ó Riordáin, Alex Pilkington, Dillon Mulligan, Jude Sweeney and goalkeeper Eoin Dawson, Cuala's task looks increasingly difficult.
Current holders Ballyboden face an injury crisis ahead of their semi-final with Na Fianna as Niall McMorrow, Dermot Coffey, Niall Ryan and Brian McCarthy are all rated "doubtful" by manager John Small, while John Breen is suspended after his sending-off in their quarter-final win over Ballinteer St John's.
Despite this, 'Boden have a wealth of talent at their disposal with six players from last year's successful campaign expected to line out and they will look to Dean Curran, Naoise Maguire, Seamus Keane and Stephen O'Connor for leadership.
The visitors, who were beaten by St Enda's in the last four a year ago, will have gained some momentum from their footballers' win over 'Boden at the weekend given half their panel enjoy dual status.
Their chances will depend on the displays of Martin Quilty, Seán Burke, Fergal Breathnach and Senan Coughlan and a close encounter is expected given the merits of the sides.