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Kelly: We will have to double our efforts now

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Chris Crummey. Photo: Sportsfile

Chris Crummey. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Chris Crummey. Photo: Sportsfile

Tomorrow's opening semi-final in a Donnycarney echo chamber could well be billed as the clash of a team that doesn't know how to lose, and opponents who don't know how to win at this rarefied level.

"We're well used to being in this position," said Peter Kelly, the Lucan stalwart and former Dublin All Star, earlier this week. "We've been here before and we've lost to them before."

For much of the past decade, the men from west Dublin have battled valiantly in pursuit of that still-elusive Dublin senior crown. Tomorrow will be their seventh semi-final in ten seasons. And yet they've only reached one final, losing to Ballyboden St Enda's in 2013.

The penultimate round has tended to be Lucan's glass ceiling: they lost in 2011, '12, '15, '16 and '17. Their only 'semi' success came against Craobh ChiarĂ¡in seven years ago. And Cuala are an entirely more fearsome prospect - notwithstanding the recent injury cloud hanging over Con O'Callaghan.

From the start of the 2015 Dublin SHC, Cuala have played 48 championship matches in the capital, Leinster and beyond. They have won 39, drawn three and lost six.

Three of those six defeats, along with two draws, came at the round-robin stage. In other words, Cuala's fate was not on the line; indeed, they had already qualified for the quarter-finals before losing to Ballyboden in 2018 and Na Fianna last month.

Their strike rate in do-or-die combat is even more impressive: Cuala have won 26 of their 30 knockout ties. Their one draw was in the 2018 All-Ireland final against Na Piarsaigh; their three losses came against Oulart-The Ballagh (2015 Leinster final), Kilmacud Crokes (2018 Dublin semi-final) and St Mullins (last year's shock Leinster quarter-final exit).

This is the statistical backdrop to an era of unprecedented success by a Dublin hurling team, yielding four county titles in five attempts, along with back-to-back Leinster and All-Ireland club triumphs.

Even minus O'Callaghan, a fortnight ago, they were metronomic almost to a fault when dispatching last year's beaten finalists, St Brigid's.

It was a lot closer for Lucan, but their 0-16 to 1-12 win over Kilmacud was a more eye-catching achievement given the opposition. Ben Coffey (0-9, 7f) and Dublin star Chris Crummey (0-5) inflicted most of the scoring damage.

But as Kelly warned: "We're under absolutely no illusions how strong they (Cuala) still are. If we prepared well enough for Crokes, we're going to have to double our efforts now."

ODDS: Cuala 1/5 Draw 12/1 Lucan 7/2

VERDICT: Cuala

  • Dublin SHC 'A' SF: Cuala v Lucan Sarsfields, Live DubsTV (Tomorrow, 2.00)