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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Cuala to find winning way

Crumlin v Cuala (Parnell Park, Today, 4.45)

Cuala defender Oisín Gough. Pic: Sportsfile
Cuala defender Oisín Gough. Pic: Sportsfile

This has the potential to be a classic with both teams blessed with forwards of the highest calibre and the significance of the fixture adds even greater anticipation to events.

Having lost their opening group match to Ballyboden St Enda's, Cuala have been on the back foot in terms of progressing from the group ever since and Crumlin remain a dangerous opponent given their talent and scoring threat in attack.

That was very much evident in their win over Ballyboden back in May but the unfortunate thing from Crumlin's perspective in the sense of having to start all over again with the momentum gained from that result long since evaporated.

Pivotal

However, by virtue of that 2-22 to 0-22 success, they can enter today's pivotal clash with faith in their abilities to overcome one of the main contenders for ultimate glory and what better challenge to motivate Crumlin than a crack against the All-Ireland champions.

Manager Ger Gavigan has assembled a talented group that places an emphasis on speed and skill and in Alex Quinn, they possess one of the most dangerous inside-forwards in the county.

His brother Ben Quinn will look to exert a similar influence further down the field in a likely midfield partnership alongside Kevin Byrne while their defence, which can creak at times and conceded 6-16 to Naomh Fionnbarra in a league match last weekend, still boast the stylish Peter Elliott and Conor Murphy in their ranks.

Whether that aforementioned duo will have to deal with the threat of Con O'Callaghan won't be confirmed until closer to throw-in and should the dual star be unavailable after his recent football heroics, the odds on a Crumlin victory will increase significantly, irrespective of O'Callaghan's lack of stick work over the summer.

Irrespective of that, Cuala will rightly enter the game as favourites when their recent triumphs are taken into account and they can still call on the likes of Colm Cronin, Seán Treacy and David Treacy for leadership and scoring prowess as they seek to take another progressive step towards a third straight title.

However, it is their defence that has been the bedrock of that recent success and Crumlin may struggle to make inroads against the intelligent rearguard play of the likes of Oisín Gough, Cian O'Callaghan, Seán Moran and Paul Schutte.

There is no doubt that Cuala remain vulnerable in today's challenge Parnell Park but their recent positive experiences should see them edge into the last-eight.

VERDICT: Cuala

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