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Monday 18 December 2017

Murphy can inspire hungry Monica's to end Junior famine

SATURDAY'S Dublin Junior A Football final between St Monica's and Cuala (Parnell Park, 7.15) is an intriguing battle.

Monica's can finally reach the holy grail after knocking on the door for the best part of a decade.

Their semi-final victory was a thrilling one and it showed just why many feel they are destined to get their hands on a trophy that has eluded them since 1987.

Outplayed for most of the first half by Round Tower, Clondalkin, the Edenmore men were struggling to get to grips with Tower's direct style.

But they weathered the storm and in the evergreen Dublin legend and player-manager Vinnie Murphy, they contain a potent weapon. Murphy shot over three points inside four first-half minutes to resurrect their challenge and they powered home after the break.

Midfielder Darren Doyle is a tireless presence and his powerful runs from deep provide a potent weapon. Centre-forward and free-taker Paul Kelly only needs a sniff to find the target while they have wily campaigners such as Philly Kelly, Dean Rooney and Ger Couglan.

Cuala represent a different challenge. In their semi against Crokes, they blew their neighbours away with an intense work-rate and fast delivery.

The full-forward line of brothers Cillian and Colm Sheanon, along with Paul James, accounted for 0-10 of their 1-12 total in their semi-final win.

If the Dalkey men are to take their first title since 1978, however, they will need to deal with the brilliance of Murphy and Kelly at the other end.

A lot will rely on how Alex Brock and Craig Lawlor, who occupy the central positions of their defence, cope with the aerial bombardment they will no doubt be subjected to. Cuala certainly have the tools, but the feeling here is that Monica's sheer hunger to get the job done will make the difference.

Verdict: St Monica's

The Dublin Junior B Football final is an all-northside affair as Fingallians take on Whitehall Colmcille in Parnell Park (Saturday, 5.30).

Whitehall's semi-final victory over St Maur's was a thriller, with Colmcille eventually emerging with a three-point victory after withstanding a late second-half comeback from Maur's.

Dublin minor Eoghan O'Donnell was outstanding, landing 1-3. Séan Ryan was another to catch the eye, finishing with 0-5. Those two, along with the likes of Brian Mulligan and Craig McCarthy, will be central to their chances once more.

For Fingallians, progression to the final is a major achievement. The Swords men ply their trade in AFL 7, while many of their opponents in the Junior B championship – including Whitehall – play a division above.

And it was another AFL 6 team who were dismissed in the semi when they blew away St Anne's, 2-15 to 3-5.

David O'Brien, Barry Clarke and Richie Herrity are all formidable performers, while Mark McArdle and Peter Murtagh will be looking to be as ruthless in front of goal as they were last time out.

To call a winner on this one is a tough task, but given their battle with a highly-rated Maur's team last time out, Whitehall may just shade it.

Verdict: Whitehall Colmcille

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