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Tuesday 16 October 2018

Club battle has added intrigue

Spectre of Dublin job hovers over semi-final clash of Kenny and Daly

SHORTLIST: Cuala boss Mattie Kenny has been linked with the vacant Dublin role Pic: Sportsfile
SHORTLIST: Cuala boss Mattie Kenny has been linked with the vacant Dublin role Pic: Sportsfile

IT wasn't long after Sunday's concluding Dublin SHC quarter-final that word filtered out from the corridors of Parnell Park. The semi-final draw had conspired to produce a repeat of the last two county finals.

Cuala versus Crokes: enough hard-fought recent history to whet the appetite for more.

After all, with the exception of Na Piarsaigh in their pulsating two-game saga last March, Cuala have steamrolled everyone in Leinster and beyond these past two seasons.

And yet, each time, they were almost stymied at the county final gate, beating Kilmacud by 1-15 to 0-15 in 2016 and by 1-13 to 0-13 in last year's sequel.

For the all-conquering men of Dalkey, some of their toughest battles have come from within their own Dublin fiefdom.

"There's only been a puck of the ball between us. I saw a few minutes of their start (against St Jude's on Sunday); they looked to be going really, really well," said Cuala boss Mattie Kenny.

"Any day we play Crokes it's a very, very tight match. It's going to be a huge battle again."

Ratcheted

But there's another reason why outside interest will be ratcheted up when rivalry resumes, the weekend after next. Something that has nothing to do with Cuala or Kilmacud: The race to be the next Dublin hurling manager.

It's safe to surmise that neither Kenny nor Anthony Daly (below, right) will be shouting from the rooftops about their desire, or otherwise, to inherit the keys to a dressing-room so abruptly vacated by Pat Gilroy. And they have the perfect alibi: club priorities must come first.

Daly has led Crokes back to a Dublin semi-final in his first season. Whether he would fancy a second coming in the Sky Blue hotseat is a moot point; perhaps his longer-term ambition would be a second shot with his native Clare.

As for Kenny, he has yet to manage at senior county level but his glittering CV with Cuala (a hat-trick of Dublin titles followed by back-to-back Leinster and All-Ireland successes) makes him a prime candidate. If he's interested. His carefully crafted response to the inevitable question, after Sunday's quarter-final cruise past Lucan, certainly didn't rule out the prospect.

"It was unexpected news for Pat (Gilroy) to step down," he told The Herald.

"The word is they (Dublin county board) have to meet in the coming week or two, and sit down and agree a process going forward. So, it's early doors yet but I suppose our concentration today was trying to get Cuala over the line."

The other irony is that, while Kenny and Daly prepare for their sideline joust, another former colleague of Kenny has been touted just as heavily for the Sky Blue vacancy.

Anthony Cunningham served as selector/coach during Gilroy's shortlived tenure; he has previously managed Galway to losing All-Ireland appearances against Kilkenny in 2012 (after a replay) and again in 2015.

Kenny was a key part of his management triumvirate for the first of those deciders but resigned after the 2013 season.

Cunningham would represent a level of continuity and, in the wake of Gilroy's shock departure, he was installed as the early 5/4 favourite.

But this is no sure thing, with his fellow Galwegian then on offer at 9/4, with Daly third in the betting at 9/2.

In all likelihood, the next Dublin manager will emerge from this trio ... all adding to the intrigue when Cuala and Crokes next collide.

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