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Sunday 22 October 2017

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Dublin SHC quarter-finals set to light up Parnell and O'Toole Park at weekend

GET up off the couch and turn off the telly.

Grab your coat and head out the hall-door.

It's the quarter-final of the Dublin Senior Hurling Championship.

The big eight are Kilmacud Crokes, St Vincent's, Cuala, Ballyboden St Enda's, O'Toole's, Lucan Sarsfields, St Jude's and Faughs.

Of the quarter-finalists, only four made the last eight cut last term - Boden, Lucan, Craobh and Crokes

"People should make the effort to get out and watch these games," declares Parnell's manager, Kieran Murphy.

"There will be plenty of entertainment. Much better than watching Coronation Street, that's for sure."

Parnell's almost made it themselves. Last year's Senior B champs were only a knuckle away from beating Cuala before they defeated Craobh Chiarain.

Their quarter-final ambition was finally ended when they fell to St Vincent's.

They were in good company. Chiarain's, last year's semi-finalists, also didn't make it out of the group

"We had a good run. And the one consolation is that we don't have to worry about relegation. That would have been hard to take," says Murphy.

"We enjoyed the dance. But now that our dance is over, we are just as interested as anyone to see what happens now.

"I am certainly looking forward to the quarter-finals. There are some mouth-watering clashes.

"We have made way now, and the floor is clear for the final jigs and reels."

Dublin's semi-final football defeat saw the senior hurling championship return quicker than expected. "The break in the championship is hard for teams. We played a couple of games at the start of the summer, and then there was the long gap for the inter-county. That's fine. Everybody knows where they stand," Ciaran says.

"But what was very difficult for teams was when the championship resumed earlier than anticipated. Clubs gear their training towards certain dates.

"Managers might have organised their training over a six to eight-week period. And things like that are important for the quality of the game to be right.

"Then you might have fellas who booked things or whatever. It can be all a bit tricky, but, look, we are all in the same boat, and I know they are looking at a national club fixture list."

Dublin's last eight has provided a tricky dish of its own. "The big surprise is that Faughs have made the quarter-final instead of St Brigid's.

"Brigid's have been in quarter-finals and semi-finals over the last few years, and they have an excellent under-age resources."

Kieran salutes the achievement of Faughs, Dublin's most celebrated club. And they now face the team over the hedge, St Jude's.

The two clubs couldn't be nearer, but this week, there will be no cups of sugar passing over the back wall.

Jude's were one of the first sides to book their quarter-final place, but PJ Donohue is a wise hurling man who has steered Faughs back into the big-time.

It should be a terrific tussle, and Faughs v Jude's is the closest derby in Dublin.

Ballyboden, the champs, against Cuala, 2012 finalists, is also whetting Kieran's appetite. "The Boden team is very different to what it was a couple of years ago," relates Kieran.

"You have eight or nine lads who have come through who are definite starters now. Apart from the Dublin players, Boden have a much different line-out now. Several of their established names are gone.

"Kilmacud Crokes are many people's fancy. I wasn't surprised that they beat Boden last week, but then again it's hard to judge that because it wasn't knock-out.

"Crokes are a fine team, and they have the lads coming through from the minor A each year. And also several fellas who are on the Dublin minor and U21 squads.

"Cuala are very fit. And their manager (Mattie Kenny) has had several weeks now working with their inter-county lads since the Dublin hurlers were beaten.

"Cuala are coming quietly. Some have them in as the dark horses. But Mark Schutte is a big loss. Any team would miss Mark."

Kilmacud against St Vincent's is another tasty tussle.

"Vincent's have very good forwards. They would give everybody a game."

Lucan against O'Toole's is also coated with intrigue. Lucan made their first final last year. It won't be their last. "Liam Ryan's injury is a blow to O'Toole's. In a tight match, he's a great man to lob a ball in to. The O'Toole's panel is tight, but, like the Craobh, they can always produce the big performance," states Murphy. "You have to admire Chiarain's and O'Toole's. They give it everything."

Looking to see who'll take the ultimate prize is like "tossing a coin."

But Kieran is sure of one thing.

A delicious double-bill awaits.

"Switch off the telly. Forget your Eastenders. There will be far better entertainment in Parnell Park and O'Toole Park," he says.

DUBLIN SENIOR HURLING CHAMPIONSHIP FIXTURES

FRIDAY

Parnell Park (6.45): O'Toole's v Lucan Sarsfields

Parnell Park (8.15): Kilmacud Crokes v St Vincent's

SUNDAY

O'Toole Park (2.30): St Jude's v Faughs

O'Toole Park (4.0): Ballyboden St Enda's v Cuala.

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