FRIDAY night lights in Parnell Park is set to provide a bumper show as Ollie Baker’s Kilmacud Crokes attempt to deny St Jude’s a first ever Dublin senior hurling championship title.
It raises the stakes on a potentially epic weekend in Parnell with the senior football championship crown being decided on Monday evening between St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh – also going for a first crown – hoping to depose the reigning champions St Vincent’s.
For the two southside clubs, though, all focus is on the hurling encounter, with Jude’s playing in a senior final for the very first time.
For Crokes, meanwhile, they won the title in 2012 and are lining up a sixth crown in total. They go into the final with the favourite’s tag, not least because of their hugely impressive semi-final victory over Ballyboden St Enda’s, a side chasing their seventh title in eight years.
In the face of a side laden with intercounty talent and multiple medals under their belt, Crokes fought superbly to win out by seven points in that match. Ryan O’Dwyer and Ross O’Carroll had been well marshalled that day, but the likes of Caolan Conway and Oisin O’Rorke put in fine performances and will need to be tamed if St Jude’s are to stay in the mix.
Baker told GazetteSport that the Ballyboden win was a big psychological boost but they will have to raise their game further against Jude’s.
“We are not going to be foolish enough to think that it was a performance to win you a county final,” he said. “Ballyboden had a couple of goal chances and if they had taken them, it would have been a different game. But it was great to get the win and get to a county final which was the aim all along.
“They are unbeaten so far this year in the league and championship. It’s impressive form to be bringing into a county final; there is a huge challenge there for our guys to take down their personal opponents and impose ourselves on the game. That’s what the final is about, a two-horse race, and we are just hoping to put in a performance and see where it takes us.”
The Terenure club have been one of the star teams of the year with a breathtaking run in AHL Division One that sees them four points clear of the chasing pack.
Their undoubted star is Danny Sutcliffe and it was his late turn that saw Jude’s advance to the final in their win over O’Toole’s.