New Dublin manager to see the light in intriguing decider
DUBLIN SHC FINAL
KILMACUD CROKES v ST JUDE'S
(Parnell Park, Tonight, 7.45)
THE light will be shining on Dublin hurling tonight. Ger Cunningham will have the best seat in the house.
The Parnell Park bulbs are the best in the country. It's the first hurling final under lights since 2007.
Opinion is divided on holding the hurling final at night. Some prefer afternoon tea, but others like it hot.
Yet the Friday night should add a touch of theatre to the occasion . . . and maybe a few more bob on the gate.
There's a novel touch to the decider with St Jude's appearing in their first final.
Kilmacud will know where to stand on the red carpet. They are seeking their sixth title. They won the chalice as recently as 2012, bridging a 27-year gap.
This season marked the first semi-final for Jude's. On reaching the Promised Land, the first thing that manager, Seán Fallon, did was to thank those that carried the torch before.
It has led to Jude's having one of the best hurlers in the land - 2013 All Star, Danny Sutcliffe.
Jude's were always noted for their dash of style. They showed substance against O'Toole's in the semi-final.
They defended brilliantly. The likes of Jesse Kennedy, Ciarán Mangan and Rob Hardy led the way.
Goalkeeper, Graham Nolan, made one of the saves of the decade, denying Peadar Carton's arrow. Midfielder, Paul Maguire, converted a golden nugget of a sideline, and the Jude's attack contains a refined artist in Fionn ó Riain Broin.
Ronan Joyce and Tom Devlin can also pot the colours.
Jude's had group wins over Crumlin and Ballinteer St John's, and they drew with last year's runners-up, Lucan Sarsfields. They registered a generous win over their friends from across the hedge, Faughs, in the quarter-final.
Like Jude's, Crokes are also unbeaten. They didn't drop a point in the pool stage, accounting for St Patrick's (Palmerstown), St Oliver Plunkett's/Eoghan Ruadh and Ballyboden St Enda's.
They overcame St Vincent's in the quarter-final, and Boden again in the semi-final.
The man from Clare, Ollie Baker, is doing a very sound job. In September, Crokes lifted the All-Ireland Sevens trophy for the first time. They possess a top 'keeper in Matt Collins. Defenders, Rob O'Loughlin, Cian MacGabhann and Jack Dougan excelled the last day.
Dillon Mulligan, Ryan O'Dwyer and Damien Kelly inject energy to the effort.
They have competent finishers in Seán McGrath, Caolan Conway and Oisín O'Rorke.
Crokes will bring greater experience to the big stage. Jude's will bring their all but the Kilmacud water-tight defence could prove to big an obstacle for Jude's to jump.
VERDICT: Kilmacud Crokes