'Mun made to Rock Leinster
Kickhams to push on in province with Mullingar scalp
TWENTY-seven years in the making but Ballymun Kickhams don't seem like a team ready to put the feet up for Christmas and stare lovingly at their hard-earned Evening Herald Dublin SFC trophy.
There is, at this stage of the year, always another match and all the noises emanating from Kickhams indicate that their ambitions have yet to be fully sated.
Mullingar's struggle has been equally frustrating over the past three years, possibly more so. Twice, they lost to Garrycastle in county deciders and were set to make it an unwanted hat-trick before the comeback of all comebacks forced a draw and then, at technically their fourth time of asking, finally put their nemesis away.
Kieran Gavin will need no introduction to Ballymun, having played with the likes of Philly McMahon, James McCarthy and Dean Rock on the successful DCU Sigerson Cup teams of the last few years and his expected duel with Rock could, in truth, be pivotal.
WENT TO TOWN
Rock went to town in the Dublin final, kicking five points from play including four off no less a guarddog than Rory O'Carroll.
In the first half, Curran's men got the ball quickly into their full-forward line who were luxuriating in acres of space and Rock's movement was both fluid and well-drilled. His finishing was near impeccable.
In this, former Dublin minor footballer Ted Furman is key for Ballymun. His unpredictable lines of running and brave ball-winning create many of the moves Rock tends to finish and so too will the running from deep of McCarthy who, on a couple of occasions, threatened to scorch the Parnell Park earth.
Garrycastle's Gavin is equally accomplished in the air and on the ground whilst both physical and disciplined in the tackle and Rock is a very obvious target on which to focus for Mullingar tomorrow.
Conversely, it's hard to isolate an area of intent for Ballymun Kickhams.
Lorcan Smyth kicked 2-4 from play in their drawn county final but was held to a single point in the replay, where Seán Daly (0-5, 1f) and Ciarán Curley (0-4, 3f) thrived.
Former Westmeath senior Donal O'Donoghue is back to full health and his robust presence in the middle is key for Mullingar.
It has been said more than once that McCarthy and Davy Byrne are not a 'natural' midfield pairing but so too are they effective and despite his relatively slight physique, the latter's flea-like jump means very few -- even the biggest -- midfielders can guarantee possession off him. Just ask Barry Cahill or Eamon Fennell!
The flipside of that is, when Kilmacud Crokes put sustained pressure on the Ballymun kick-out, pushing high up the pitch and marking all their intended targets, they struggled to gather clean possession and that was the launchpad for the Stillorgan outfit's brave but ultimately fruitless comeback.
All told, it should be very, excruciatingly tight but Ballymun have something about them this year and should just scrape it.
ODDS: Mullingar Shamrocks 5/2, Draw 13/2, Ballymun Kickhams 13/10
VERDICT: Ballymun Kickhams