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Tuesday 11 December 2018

Clubs are back on centre stage

Senior Championship hots up as quarter-final duels are confirmed

KEENLY CONTESTED: Ballyboden St Enda’s Colm Basquel under pressure from St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh’s Declan Lally during their Dublin SFC match at Parnell Park last Friday night. Photo: Justin Farrelly
KEENLY CONTESTED: Ballyboden St Enda’s Colm Basquel under pressure from St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh’s Declan Lally during their Dublin SFC match at Parnell Park last Friday night. Photo: Justin Farrelly

After another wonderful summer for the county's senior team, it was time for the club players to re-enter the limelight last weekend as eight matches of contrasting quality took place between Friday and Sunday.

Understandably, there was an element of rustiness on show and the entertainment on offer on Friday night lacked it's usual spark with Kilmacud Crokes and Raheny sharing just eleven points in the drab 0-7 to 0-4 win for Crokes that secured their third straight win in the group.

Down the Malahide Road, the fare was only slightly more palatable as Ballyboden St Enda's did just enough to join Kilmacud in the last eight by virtue of their 0-13 to 2-7 draw with St Oliver Plunkett's/Eoghan Ruadh.

Of course, St Vincent's can feel justifiably pleased with how they resumed their quest for their fifth title in six years, beating Lucan Sarsfields by nineteen points, and they show few signs of resting on their laurels despite their recent dominance of the championship.

Another team that will resume training this week with an extra spring in their step is St Sylvester's, who completed their group series with a perfect record after defeating St Jude's by 2-14 to 1-11 in Parnell Park.

It would be foolish to read too much into the result, given both teams had already confirmed their place in the last eight but for manager Jack Sheedy, it was nonetheless an encouraging display from his team although the former Dublin star acknowledges that it was a far from complete performance.

Periods

"Overall, it was a good performance from the lads although there were periods in the game that we would need to look at.

"St Jude's were trying out a couple of things as both teams knew that their place in the quarter-finals was assured and we had to leave a couple of guys out too.

"However, it was championship football all the same and it's not something that you can turn on and off like a switch so we had to look to play the game at the right intensity.

"We have quite a young panel and those lads need games at this level to help in terms of their development.

ON THE RUN: Stephen Smith of Skerries in action against Na Fianna’s Darragh Kennedy. Photo: Justin Farrelly
ON THE RUN: Stephen Smith of Skerries in action against Na Fianna’s Darragh Kennedy. Photo: Justin Farrelly

"St Jude's would be very experienced and are always there or thereabouts at the business end of the championship and they are the epitome of a hard-working and consistent team.

"We wouldn't be taking too much from beating them but we were certainly happy with certain aspects of our play.

"I thought that we started very well for the first quarter or so and then we finished very well in making sure we got over the line, but there were periods in between that we will need to look at as that level wouldn't be good enough at this level," he said.

"If we perform to the levels that we showed at certain times during our game on Sunday, then we will have a chance but we cannot afford the down times that we experienced against St Jude's and if we do have them, we need to manage them better and not concede so much on the scoreboard.

"It is a steep learning curve for a lot of the lads but they are developing nicely and we're just going to sit down in the coming week and see where we are at in terms of the challenge that Kilmacud will present.

"The lads put in a great shift last Sunday and they will need to do the same the weekend after next and really, the coming days is all about getting our own house in order."

FINAL CALL: Action from last year’s Dublin SFC final as Philly McMahon of Ballymun Kickhams is challenged by St Vincents’ Craig Wilson at Parnell Park. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile
FINAL CALL: Action from last year’s Dublin SFC final as Philly McMahon of Ballymun Kickhams is challenged by St Vincents’ Craig Wilson at Parnell Park. Photo: Matt Browne/Sportsfile

As for their chances against Crokes, Sheedy is realistic enough to know that his team will enter the game as underdogs but the foundations are slowly but surely being put in place to bring the Malahide outfit back to the forefront of challengers on a consistent basis.

"We sat down at the end of last year and again at the start of this season and we looked hard at where we want to be in terms of this team.

"The players said that their ambition is to eventually be among the top four teams in the county and we know that we have a fair amount of work to do to get to that stage.

"We are really looking forward to the Crokes match but we know that we are going to have to play to our best and maybe have that little bit of luck that all teams need and that might be enough for us on the day," said Sheedy.

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