Tuesday 25 June 2019

Fingal are up for the fight

THE small ball is bouncing that bit higher in the capital this week.

After the underhand three-card trick that knocked out the seniors, under-21s and minors, along comes the Fingal Express to lift the spirit.

The Fingal hurlers are through to the semi-final of the Nicky Rackard Cup next weekend when they travel to Sligo to face the Yeats County.

"It's a boost. There's no doubt about that," declares Denis Murphy, who manages the side with Peter Conway and Derry Murphy.

"It's a big lift for the Fingal district. A lot of people around the country wouldn't realise that Fingal is not a traditional hurling area.

"They see it as part of Dublin, which it is, but they mightn't realise it's not a hurling stronghold.

"That's why it's so pleasing to see areas like Swords and Balbriggan being part of this. It's terrific."

In their first Rackard match, Fingal lost to Louth by two points in Dundalk. They then beat Longford by eight points in Parnell Park, topping the Group on score-difference and earning last Saturday's home 1-19 to 0-12 quarter-final victory against Leitrim.

The catchment stretches from Blanchardstown to Balbriggan, and the clubs involved include Fingallians, Naomh Mearnóg, O'Dwyer's, Skerries Harps, Setanta, St Brigid's, St Finian's (S), Naomh Maur, Naomh Barróg, St Sylvester's and Trinity Gaels.

"The basis of the squad came from the North Dublin Regional team that took part in the Dublin Senior Hurling Championship last year," explains Denis.

"Obviously we couldn't include non Fingal clubs like Clontarf, Raheny, Parnells and Scoil Uí Chonaill.

"The first time we put a team together was for the Kehoe Cup last January. Carlow beat us with a last minute goal. That gave us an indication that we could compete in the Rackard because they are at Christy Ring level.

"We then assembled again at Easter and we have been having one session a week. We are basically working with the clubs because we don't want to cut across what they are doing.

"The clubs have been very co-operative. We played a few challenge matches. We had one in Kilkenny and a very good one against the Ballyboden seniors. Things like that kept us going."

Denis and his crew are thrilled with the progress in the competition, but they can see the bigger picture.

"One of the things we are looking for is guys who are on Development squads," remarks Denis.

"We have a few guys who are on these squads.

"Maybe they only have the opportunity of playing Junior or Intermediate hurling with their clubs.

"This gives them a chance to sample a level where they can improve themselves as hurlers.

"And hopefully one or two of them will go on and make it onto the Dublin senior team at some stage."

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