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Tuesday 12 December 2017

O'Loughlin to spur Crokes to break 'Boden

BALLYBODEN ST ENDA'S aim to defend their title when they face local rivals Kilmacud Crokes in the Dublin U21 'A' Hurling Championship Final at O'Toole Park this Saturday afternoon (2.30).

Boden's demolition of a talented St Jude's in last year's decider is unlikely to be replicated but there are genuine grounds for optimism of a repeat success after encouraging displays en route to the final.

A talented Ballinteer St John's were overcome by six points before Christmas and St Enda's had 10 points to spare over Na Fianna with Gavin Corrigan and Niall Ryan sharing three goals in their 3-13 to 1-9 win.

That win was all the more worthy given the absence of Niall McMorrow through injury and John Breen through suspension and both are likely to be available on Saturday if manager John Small is looking to rejig his starting 15.

Central to their win last Saturday week was the collective display of their half-back line of Jamie Desmond, Dean Curran and Naoise Maguire with Curran maintaining his fine form from Dublin's run to the All-Ireland U21 final against Galway last summer.

There is no obvious weakness in the midfield pairing of Brian McCarthy and Stephen O'Connor and their tussle against likely opposite numbers Naomhán Ó Riordáin and Dillon Mulligan will have a huge bearing on who ultimately prevails.

Kilmacud were equally impressive in their disposal of Cuala in Hyde Park 10 days ago and although it wasn't necessarily an exhibition in free-flowing hurling, there was a maturity and steeliness to their performance that augurs well for Saturday.

Dublin under-21s of last year, Bill O'Carroll and Jack Doughan, kept things tight at the back with Mulligan's all-purpose display including two sublime scores to confirm their four-point victory.

If Dillon Mulligan is similarly effective, then the likes of Seán McGrath, Barry Mulligan and Kevin O'Loughlin have sufficient quality to see Kilmacud Crokes home by the narrowest of margins.

Verdict: KILMACUD CROKES

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