Mun's rise was no surprise to Gooch
Kerry legend lauds Dubs ahead of potential semi showdown
THEY might be the lesser spotted of the All-Ireland club series but Ballymun's place amongst the last four teams in Ireland is fully justified, according to the man who will probably consume most of their pre-match thoughts before next February's semi-final.
The 'Mun are officially on uncharted ground here whereas Dr Crokes - their expected All-Ireland last-four opponents - will play their third such semi in just seven seasons.
Crossmaglen, amazingly, enter a seventh calendar year of the last nine, counting down the time until they get a crack at a spot at making the St Patrick's Day club showpiece while Connacht champions St Brigid's await the juncture for a third successive season.
According to Colm 'Gooch' Cooper, though, Ballymun Kickhams' rise and rise wasn't such a surprise to him at all.
"I wasn't surprised, to be honest," he announced yesterday. "I'm up in Dublin a little bit more with work and I've been talking to people and a lot of them were fancying Ballymun from a long way out.
"I didn't know a whole pile about them. You would obviously know a bit more about Kilmacud Crokes and those sort of teams. We hear a bit more about them in Kerry. But Ballymun are a very organised side. Very strong.
"And with Paul Curran in charge, you know they're going to be good. He was an outstanding player and he knows his stuff, so I don't think it was a massive surprise. A couple of the Kerry lads are up here in college and stuff and they were saying just how organised they were and how well they were playing.
"We were just saying earlier, whoever wins the All-Ireland this year, it will be well-earned. It always is."
Not that the fixture is necessarily nailed-on just yet.
Dr Crokes' never-ending season enters a 12th successive week this Sunday in Ruislip where the Kerry kingpins play London champions Tír Chonaill Gaels for the right to play the 'Mun.
Last weekend, they had to attend to some East Kerry housekeeping too, beating Rathmore in that particular divisional final and as it is the Munster champions' turn to travel to London this year, their season has been augmented a further week.
He is pragmatic about the prospect, rather than totally consumed by it.
"If you want to win the All-Ireland you have to go and do the job, and win in tough places, so it has to be done," Gooch mused, although as he admits himself, Dr Crokes' 2012/13 barometer has been pushed much higher by their recent Kerry dominance.
"We lost an All-Ireland semi-final last year and we want to see if we can go one step further," he insisted.
"The three-in-a-row (of Kerry championships) was a fantastic achievement by the club but these players are hungry for success and they knew there were bigger tests ahead.
"We've taken it game by game and I definitely wouldn't be looking past Sunday because that would be very foolish and unprofessional.
"People are saying we'll handle it and we'll play Ballymun after Christmas and that will be the real test but I wouldn't subscribe to that at all.
"I've been at enough matches to know that is silly talk, especially at this time of year," concluded the Kerry legend.