DERBY Delight in Parnell Park tonight. It’s quarter-final time in the Evening Herald Dublin Senior Hurling ‘A’ Championship.
Following the rise of the county’s hurling fortunes during the summer, good vibrations abound.
Four cracking matches are expected this weekend, and the best of the lot could be this evening’s North Dublin clash between St Vincent’s and Craobh Chiarain (8.30) – that comes after O’Toole’s and St Patrick’s of Palmerstown begin tonight’s Donnycarney action (6.45). Pat’s won the SHC ‘B’ last season and they contain such quality as Liam Rushe and Shane Stapleton. Vincent’s, Craobh and O’Toole’s will all be seeking to improve on last year’s performance when they were all knocked out in the quarter-final.
Tomorrow, the double-bill moves to O’Toole Park where Kilmacud Crokes meet Lucan Sarsfields (3.0). Crokes were runners-up last term, while Lucan are seeking to make the last four for the third successive time.
Ballyboden St Enda’s are bidding for the three-in-a-row. O’Toole’s were the last club to achieve that accolade in 1997. Boden face Crumlin (4.30), who reached the semi-final last season. Boden boss, Liam Hogan, is expecting a stern examination: “Crumlin are a good side. There’s no doubting that. It will be a severe test for us,” predicts Liam.
“We played them this season, so we are well aware of their quality. We know they’ll take beating. We have been happy enough with our displays so far, but this will be our biggest challenge.”
The champions will be without the injured Stephen Hiney. Stephen will miss the remainder of the hurling and football campaigns.
“It’s a blow, but there’s nothing we can do about it. All we can do is to wish Stephen all the best in his recovery,” remarks Liam.
Boden will also be without the suspended Conor McCormack. “He’s another huge loss. He was on fire in the forward line, and it’s not always easy to find good forwards.”
One top forward is Conal Keaney, who played with the footballers on Tuesday and who will be back out with them in the second semi-final replay against Kilmacud next Tuesday night.
“Conal is a busy man alright, but he’s such a good all-rounder,” says Liam of the player whose quality with the small ball has been getting better and better with each game.
“The one good thing is that we have a good squad. We have strength in depth,” adds Liam, the former Offaly hurler who led ‘Boden to their first county ‘A’ crown in 2007.
– Conor McKeon