Saturday 16 December 2017

Crokes class can steal it

Clash of Dublin superpowers promises to be tight affair but Kilmacud look set to strike final blow


St Brigid's v Kilmacud Crokes

(Parnell Park, Tomorrow, 4.0)

IT'S a meeting of the Worker's Party. Two of the modern-day super-powers of Dublin football -- Crokes and Brigid's.

If they were looking for recruits for the Chilean mining rescue party, these lads would be first in the queue. And if ever a match dripped with intrigue, this is definitely it.

It's packed to the attic with possibility. One thing is for sure -- nobody will be putting their Telly Bingo takings on the outcome. It has more sub-plots than an entire series of CSI Miami.

Can Brigid's reproduce their Plunkett's master class? Can Crokes inject, and maintain, their renowned intensity for the hour?

Both clubs have produced a harvest of Dubs. Being involved in the big day is not a foreign land to either of the sides.

Brigid's know how to march in step behind the band, but, surprisingly, they are only going for their second senior title.

That underlines the strength of Dublin football. Kilmacud are looking for their seventh county crown.

Like Vincent's before them, they demonstrated the quality of the capital when they collected All-Ireland gold last year.

Their remarkable unbeaten championship run extended until Boden beat them in that amazing three-game semi-final debate.

They dusted off the boots and came back fresh again this term, despite a waiting-room full of injuries.

The Brigid's renaissance has been more than impressive. And they have beaten some high-calibre sides to return to their first final since 2007.

Three of those games were very tight -- the ties with Ballymun, Jude's and UCD. Brigid's proved their temperament and growing belief in all of them.

The Stillorgan side have also endured three Gillette shaves -- against Syls, Na Fianna and Vincent's last Sunday.

Crokes went off on a Sunday afternoon slumber in that one. Paddy Carr will have packed the alarm clock in the Donnycarney kit bag tomorrow.

Mark Byrne and his Brigid's colleagues were able to sit back and watch that semi-final. They completed their work the previous night.

The Navan Road hasn't stopped talking since. Against their neighbours, it has to go down as the display of the championship.

One for all, and all for one is the Brigid's tune these days. And they have never heard more Songs of Praise sung in their honour. It was the real Saturday night X-factor performance.

But they are old newspaper cuttings now. Repeating it is the trick that the Russell Park personnel will be focusing on.

In the Parnell Park kitchen last week, they were talking about how Peadar Andrews rolled back the years. Peadar did such a fabulous job in curtailing Bernard Brogan.

Graham Norton also got the 9.5s. Peadar and Graham are two players who have given so much to the red jersey.

But it was a night when every Brigid's player was a man-of-the-match. It was their collective industry that won out.

It was the essential team performance that could be bottled or DVD'd and sold down on Hanlon's Corner.

It was inspirational stuff. Brigid's began brightly. They built up a nice lead, but everybody was waiting for the Plunkett's revival.

Brigid's managed to snuff out all the Plunkett's candles. And the same super-human effort will be required again.


Both teams have such excellent defences. Finding the space to strike for the dart board won't be easy.

And there won't be any cheap frees coming inside the Sunday papers. The Brigid's and Crokes rearguard have such a disciplined approach about them.

If there is room to be had, Paddy Andrews is the Brigid's ace. He can pot them from any part of the table.

The freetaking of Mark Cahill and Ken Darcy will also be important. Darcy led from the front last Saturday.

His goal might someday make it into the GAA Museum. He reacted with the speed of a panther to pluck a clearance from the sky and send it back in through the cat-flap.

The likes of Kevin Bonner, Barry Cahill and Cian Mullins can also contribute to the Brigid's tally.

And against Jude's, goalkeeper, Shane Supple, became a fully paid up member of Stephen Cluxton's 45 Club.

The Crokes trusty gate-man, David Nestor, has not signed up yet, but it will take a decent strike to beat him. He's been in consistent form all year. Mark Vaughan came off the bench late last Sunday. The Championship has missed his colourful personality.

Brian Kavanagh, Pat Burke, Barry O'Rorke and Declan Kelleher have helped with the Kilmacud harvest, while Adrian Morrissey and Cosi have also been pitching in.

O'Rorke had one of his best games in the Crokes jersey against Vincent's. Liam óg ó hEineachain also did some notable deeds.

Rory O'Carroll is flying back from France. Himself and his brother, Ross, were superb against the Marino men. At least their was some consolation in defeat for Vinnies clubman and Dubs boss Pat Gilroy.

Cian O'Sullivan and Niall Corkery also brought so much energy to the stage. And just like Brigid's, there's assurance and no fuss at the back.

And that's the phrase that sums up both teams -- no fuss. They just get on with it, no matter what the day brings.

Hopefully, there will be a huge crowd down in the theatre. The game is all the better when the atmosphere is humming. The night time finals under the lights in recent years have brought an extra slice of drama to the big occasion. But one thing tomorrow will be as clear as day -- nothing will come easy. Crokes gets a hesitant nod!

VERDICT: Kilmacud Crokes

p Match live on DublinCityFM (103.2)

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