PARNELL POISED FOR A SUPER SATURDAY.
FULL-HOUSE in the Crumlin cathedral. The old ground was rocking. Every vantage point was taken. There were faces pressed against the window upstairs in the clubhouse.
The two terraces were packed. The rest of the audience were guided around the road-end goal to watch the action from the far side. The Ben Dunne gym was at their back.
The occasion contained so much colour. The pitch was in marvellous order. There was a frizzle in the air.
Football championship quarter-final Sunday. Before throw-in, the chat was all about the elimination of the mighty Mun.
St Oliver Plunkett’s/ER have now knocked out two of the giants. They beat Kilmacud in the first round.
They are now an hour away from reaching their first final since 2011. The Navan Road came to a standstill for that one. Brigid’s won by two points.
A replay against Crokes foiled Plunkett’s three years earlier. In the last couple of years, many felt their chance had gone.
But the pages of the Ashtown Gazette never lost their ray of hope.
They’ll play St Jude’s. Like Plunkett’s, Jude’s have never lifted the Clery Cup.
But they were in the final in 2009, and they are never too far away from the quarter-final and semi-final stages.
Ballyboden overcame them in that 2009 final. It was an afternoon when all of Andrew Kerin’s numbers came up. He left Parnell Park with 2-5 in the wallet.
Last week, Boden got past Lucan Sarsfields without Michael Darragh Macauley. Up in O’Toole Park, Michael had his hand in a sling.
After the game, he was on his way to the Boden dressing-room. A young fan asked him to sign his hurley.
It was no easy task, trying to balance the stick with one hand and sign it at the same time, but Michael managed it all the same. And he was only too happy to do so. The stamp of class.
Mossy Quinn displayed his quality with a second half hat-trick of goals against Templeogue Synge Street in their quarter-final.
Mossy’s a marvel. He was awesome last season as St Vincent’s swept all before them. And so was Diarmuid Connolly.
Connolly is in the frame for the GAA Footballer of the Year award. People are still talking about his goal against St Sylvester’s.
It was a volley from the heavens. It came from a delightful sweet tray that even Rachel Allen would find hard to match.
And these are the magical moments that encourage people to leave the front room, take in the fresh air, and take in the wonder that is the Dublin Senior Football Championship.
The Jude’s v Brigid’s game was compelling. Brigid’s went in as favourites, although they got a big fright against Skerries in the previous round.
But Jude’s have been a match for the best of them over the years, and so it proved again.
There was such a tempo to the tie. The Jude’s defending was top-notch. Time and again, they repelled Brigid’s attacks.
Kevin McManamon’s hat-trick proved crucial. It was a big win for Jude’s. And it wasn’t the first-time they toppled Brigid’s in a prestige championship fixture. They also did so in 2009, on their way to the final. That season they also overcame Plunkett’s in a quarter-final replay.
“We are looking forward to the semi-final now. We were very happy with the result against Brigid’s,” remarks Jude’s manager, Des Newton. “It was a positive display, and the aim now will be to carry that forward to next Saturday.
“We have prepared well for the championship. The lads have gelled well, and they have put in the work.
“But it certainly doesn’t get any easier, especially when you reach the quarter-final stage.
“If you want to progress in the championship, you have to expect bigger tests every time.
But our fellas have the ability. And they have the belief.”
That belief was examined when Brigid’s were battling back in the second half of the quarter-final.
But Kevin McManamon showed real leadership when he reminded all around him to keep doing what they were doing, and to keep a hold of the ball.
The excitement and tension of that tussle captured the essence of the Dublin championship.
“It is a unique competition,” reflects Des.
“There’s great football played in the Dublin championship. The work-rate and the levels of fitness of each player on all the teams is fantastic, especially when you get to the last 16.
“And the big thing is that whoever emerges as the champions of Dublin have a huge advantage going forward because of the quality of the county championship. It’s first-class.”
Who that club will be is in the fate of the gods.
Four teams left now.
Soon it will be two.
DUBLIN SFC SEMI-FINALS
Parnell Park (3.30): St Jude’s v St Oliver Plunkett’s/ER