Kilmacud Crokes are looking to win their Dublin senior hurling championship third title since 2012. Picture: Diarmuid O’Gallchobhair

KILMACUD Crokes’ manager Ollie Baker will hope they can carry the dominant form of the knockout phases of the Dublin senior hurling championship final on Saturday [Parnell Park, 3pm].
Crokes crushed Craobh Chiarain 3-11 to 1-6 before running up a 2-19 to 0-13 semi-final win over O’Toole’s en route to the final but know reigning champions Cuala are a different beast altogether.
Indeed, the two sides drew in the group stages of this year’s SHC and Baker says he has huge respect for the southside rivals ahead of a tie that is the talk of the city.
“There’s a bit of flavour, a bit of spice,” Baker told GazetteSport. “Both sides are attacking sides who play the game the right way which is a trend in hurling. We play an open style that’s developed from school age up but we won’t be able to measure this side against the earlier [Dublin title winning] ones until we see what they do on Saturday.”
Having taken the Dublin title in 2012 and 2014, Crokes might see the even years as an omen, and Baker assures their attitude will be “just go for it,” with “the aim of getting to the final set from the start of the season; there are only 32 of these around the country and it’s every player’s dream.
“This is what players play for. The quality Cuala have is notable at every level. We’ll be looking to be very disciplined. Rhey have a fantastic free taker in David Treacy who’s shown he’s capable of scoring from 70, 80 yards.”
Baker was quick to dismiss Cuala’s comfortable league win over Crokes earlier this season, arguing “it’s a totally different competition, and I don’t think either side will be thinking too much about that.
“These players are very familiar with each other, a lot of them would have gone to school together.
“Friendships will be put on hold for the duration of the match, but whoever wins, they’ll deserve the congratulations they’ll get at full time.”
Crokes do, however, seem to be painting themselves as slight underdogs. Baker mentions that “Cuala are the best” but feels Crokes have prepared well.
“We dedicate the entire summer to getting ourselves ready, not playing so many matches,” he explains. “Then they all come along at once, with four in five weeks. We’re likely to be missing Mark Murphy, our full-back, who was injured in the [dominant, 2-19 to 0-13] semi-final win over O’Toole’s.
“It’s a physical battle, and while the scorelines on our way to the final might look like we’ve been comfortable, we feel like we’ve been tested,” Baker concludes.
“There are a lot of good teams in Dublin. We’ve got points at the right times to get here but despite looking comfortable it’s not been easy. It’s a 20-man game now and we have great strength coming off the bench, but so does every team at the top of the Dublin game.
“We’re expecting an intense battle, and our focus is 100% on Saturday.”