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Saturday 16 December 2017

Plunkett's primed to plunder Raheny

A SUPER show from Raheny in O'Toole Park. Beating St Mary's in the Kimmage Manor added a few stripes to the shirt.

Raheny's Division 2 form has been excellent, and against Mary's it was easy to see why. The fitness levels are impressive, and so too is the collective purpose.

This will be another few steps up the ladder. Plunkett's are one of Dublin's footballing heavyweights. They have come within touching distance of the claret jug. Jayo and Alan Brogan were especially prominent in their first round victory over Clondalkin's Round Towers, and last year's runners-up have no shortage of experience.

Rory O'Connor, Shane Lyons and Michael Brides form a solid full-back line, and there's quality all around the Navan Road in players like Anthony Moyles, 'Nesty' Smith, Bernard Brogan and new recruit from across the street, Declan Lally.

Raheny also contain calibre. King Henry is still adored by his subjects. Paul McCabe and Rob Donnelly are secure sentries, Paddy O'Higgins is a midfielder from the old school while Ciarán Murphy is in the form of his life. Gavin Ivory has a goalscoring touch and they will need it if Whelo's warriors are going to pull off a shock.

ST OLIVER PLUNKETT'S/ER v RAHENY (Tonight, Parnell Pk, 6.45) (Winners Section)

VERDICT: St Oliver Plunkett's/ER

Crokes to storm Saints

ST PEREGRINE'S v KILMACUD CROKES (Tonight, Parnell Pk, 8.15) (Winners Section)

CROKES overcame Naomh Maur, but they had to don the yellow hats to do so. It was only when Barry O'Rorke rattled the Rush cobwebs that the Stillorgan side could begin to think of the second round.

Darren Magee is back flourishing in the engine room. He had Paddy Duggan for company. No cheap flights there.

Robbie McCarthy is a Peregrine's Pearl. He too can decorate the sky-line. He was in the mood for dancing against Clontarf.

David Lynch, Stuart Lowndes and Ciarán McGuinness are other stylish Saints. It will take a tasty strike to beat David Nestor, one of the most experienced 'keepers in the business. And against Maur's, Pat Burke was wearing the velvet boots. Crokes' defence is still one of the hardest nuts in town to crack and they should progress here.

VERDICT: Kilmacud Crokes

Ravens can hit heights

NAOMH MEARNóG v FINGAL RAVENS (Tonight, Naul, 7.30) (Losers Section)

RAVENS put in the graft against Na Fianna in Garristown. The scoreboard could have been kinder to their deeds.

Conor Deegan's team went down to Trinity Gaels in extra-time. The Dublin U21 captain, Kevin O'Brien, was central to the Mearnóg offering.

The silky skills of John Madden would brighten any parade, while Stephen McHale was the Portmarnock chief teller against the Gaels. Mearnóg will miss his presence tonight, and also that of Michael Gibbs.

Ravens know well the scent of championship evenings. They have several aces, among them David Mitchell, Darren Daly and Niall Tormey.

VERDICT: Fingal Ravens

Syls to trump O'Toole's

O'TOOLE'S v ST SYLVESTER'S (Tonight, Drumnigh, 7.30) (Losers Section)

O'TOOLE'S continue to wear two hats with distinction. Overcoming Syls was a feather in the cap for Templeogue Synge Street.

The Malahide men had begun briskly that evening in Crumlin. They will be keen to maintain a steady tempo here. But they might have to do so without Aidan Relihan, Eoin Fanning and Miceál McCarthy.

The Larriers always empty the tank, be it big ball or small. They fell to Parnell's the first day. They didn't lack possession. Liam Fitzgerald, Mick Cunningham, Mick Healy, Andrew Morris and David Mooney are Ayrfield Aces. Syls have respected performers in Robbie Wallace, Brian Sexton, Gary Sweeney and the Wee man with the big boot, Darren Clarke.

VERDICT: St Sylvester's

Davis can down John's

THOMAS DAVIS v BALLINTEER ST JOHN'S (Tonight, O'Toole Pk, 7.30) (Losers Section)

THE Tallaght lads made Brigid's work for the win on opening night. Kiltipper Road has been blessed with a side that like to play fast, fruitful football.

Shane McGrath, Ciarán Farrelly, Paul Hudson and Eoin Kirby will cover the turf. The Ballinteer boys visited every inch of the Iveagh Gardens. They brought last year's semi-finalists, Lucan Sarsfields, to extra-time. It looked like the Marlay men were going to win when they led by three points in extra-time. But that was before Lucan sent out an SOS.

Glenn Whelan and Peter O'Curry gave majestic displays on that evening. This should be a happy hour.

VERDICT: Thomas Davis

- NIALL SCULLY

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