Although Castleknock GAA adult hurlers were comfortable winners against Palatine of Carlow in their Leinster Junior Special Hurling first-round encounter last Sunday, their manager Anton Cleary is under no illusions about the task facing them when they take on Offaly’s Crinkill in their provincial quarter-final clash at O’Toole Park this Sunday (throw-in 12.45pm).
Speaking to GazetteSport, Cleary said: “It’s a real step up for us. They’re an Offaly side so they deserve respect, and a lot of those guys would have played for Birr Community School.
“They’ve been in the shadow of Birr [GAA Club] and I suppose but they’ll be well able to hurl.”
The games have been coming thick and fast for Castleknock and this Sunday’s match is their third big outing in as many weeks – following on from their capture of the Dublin junior title with a five- point win over Lucan Sarsfields a week prior to their trip to Palatine.
Wexford native Cleary highlighted how the strength in depth of his panel has been a huge factor in their success in 2013.
“ We’ve done very well [this year] and we’ve a really strong panel – 26 [players] training still although we’ve a couple of injuries.
“Last year was a real problem in terms of injuries and we’d 16 [players] out at one stage but we’ve done very well [in regard to injuries] this year which has been a huge plus.”
Reflecting on Castleknock’s overall campaign thus far, Cleary said: “We’ve been posting about 17 scores every game and conceding about 14 [points] but our full-back line has been immense.
“Conor Cauldron has been terrific at centre-back and our goalkeeper Brian Dunne has been strong and consistent whenever we’ve needed him.
“Tom Quinn and Jack King have been terrific for us in the centre and Jack got a fantastic score on Sunday.
“Cian O’Dualing has been solid with frees for us too and that’s a real asset to any side.”
Castleknock PRO Dave Sweeney put the hurlers achievements within the overall context of the club.
“It’s great for the hurling lads to get this far in the Leinster championship.
“Obviously they’ll be going out to win it.
“Our hurling has been really successful this year and – with our footballers still going well in the league – it could be a huge year for the club.”