Mannion and Crokes face up to huge Jude’s final test

by Stephen Findlater

Eyebrows were raised when St Jude’s overcame the favourites St Vincent’s to set up an all-southside Dublin Football Championship final against Kilmacud Crokes.

Vincent’s – with Diarmuid Connolly back in action and featuring off the bench following his stint in America with Donegal Boston – were looking to make it three titles in a row.

They were no match for the Tymon North club, however, who followed up their quarter-final win over Ballymun Kickhams with a comprehensive 2-11 to 0-8 win.

“I wasn’t surprised to be honest,” Mannion said in advance of Sunday’s final date at Parnell Park.

“I saw them against Ballymun they were well worth their win and popped up every year for the last few years. They beat us well in 2016 so I wasn’t surprised.

“It was a good game – to come back from 0-5 to 0-1 down against St Vincent’s is no mean feat at all. They are really good team with a lot of god players so I wasn’t surprised.

“Physically they are really imposing, especially around the middle, and they use that to their advantage. They know their strengths we will have a massive task to break that down.”

Mannion was part of the Crokes side the last time they contested a county final, in 2012, when they lost out by a point to Ballymun.

Mannion was 19 and just off the back of helping Dublin to an Under-21 All-Ireland title, hitting the back of the net late on as Dublin came from behind to beat Roscommon.

While he’s gone on to enjoy massive success at senior intercounty level, success at club level has proved harder to come by, and the 24-year-old admits he values it more knowing how fleeting it is.

“I only said to one of the lads yesterday, I kind of thought then as you would naturally be thinking that there’s next year.

“Because Crokes had been in so many finals of so many championships in the years before that, you kind of thought this will come again. I didn’t think I’d be waiting another five, six years.

“I’ve been saying it to the younger lads in the team that these don’t come around too often at all, especially in the Dublin championship now how competitive it’s gone.

“It’s a massive opportunity and I’m going to do everything to make sure we don’t miss it.”

One man who will be key to that effort is Cian O’Sullivan, who has returned following an absence after picking up a hamstring injury during the All-Ireland final win over Tyrone.

“He nicked his hamstring in the final but did loads of rehab and got it well sorted out before coming back training. He did fitness tests and stuff the week before the game and he was flying it.

“I’ve kind of had similar bad luck just a different time of the year, every February it seems for me, a kind of muscle tear.

“Cian now, it seems to be around September, October time.

“It’s been a really unfortunate timing for the club but just delighted now to have him back fresh fit for the final.”

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