Kilmacud Crokes hurler Rob Murphy believes the standard of competition in Dublin is as high as it’s ever been as they prepare to meet Ballyboden St Enda’s in Sunday’s county final.
The Stillorgan club proved as much as they finally got the better of All-Ireland champions Cuala in the semi-final at Parnell Park two weeks ago.
Crokes have been beaten by the odd goal by Cuala in each of the last two finals and watched as their local rivals went on to lift back-to-back national titles.
And Murphy admits that jealousy – and wondering what might have happened had the ball bounced their way – has driven their standards ever higher.
“We’d be very friendly with some of [the Cuala players] from school,” said Murphy ahead of this weekend’s showdown at Parnell Park.
“Coláiste Eoin would have a lot of overlap [between the two sets of players]. So while you’d be happy for the lads, obviously you would be jealous.
“Because of the friendships from school, you would genuinely be happy for them. At the same time, you’d be jealous because you obviously wish it was you.
“But you’d be genuinely happy – you’d be happy to see Dublin clubs do well once they’ve beaten you. We were able to say we were beaten by the All-Ireland champions.
“If things went our way in the last couple of finals [we could have done what they did], but at least we’ve got the chance now.”
Another key reason for the club’s upturn in fortunes has been the appointment of former Dublin manager Anthony Daly to succeed his fellow Clareman Ollie Baker.
Daly, who commutes from Clare for the role, led Dublin to a first Leinster title in over 50 years in 2013 and his technical know-how and motivational ability have been vital.
“He has a real intensity about the game – the passion he has is unbelievable. When he speaks, everyone listens. He’s been successful as a manager and as a player, and he really drives you on.
“He’s brought in a great management team. The training is really sharp – short but sharp – and they’ve been really professional and had everything planned out well.”
Crokes come up against a Ballyboden side who, like them, have beaten the All-Ireland champions this year and will perhaps be considered slight favourites.
Boden won six out of seven county championships between 2007 and 2013 but this is their first time in the final since their victory five years ago.
“I wouldn’t say we’re not underdogs for this game. Boden have gone on won games in Leinster and we haven’t.
“The haven’t really progressed through Leinster in the past couple of years.
“We just take it game by game. We look after ourselves and don’t worry too much about the opposition.”