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Saturday 1 November 2014

Saints face stiff test

RORY KERR

Published 11/09/2012 | 17:10

RAHENY and St Sylvesters meet in the championship for the first time in living memory at Parnell Park this Thursday in what promises to be a mouth-watering clash in Donneycarney.

With a throw in of 8.15pm, Raheny are in a position to mount a serious challenge to Sylvesters with many expecting the Dublin 5 outfit to gain promotion to the top flight next season. The St Anne's Park outfit recorded an eleven-point win over near neighbours Naomh Barrog at the weekend, a result which secured their place in the Division 2 semifinals. Gavan Ivory, found the back of the net for Raheny and impressed along with the likes of Rutherson Reale, Eoghan Keogh and Patrick O'Higgins, who has represented Dublin at minor level. Stephen Swords has been hugely impressive in defence for Raheny this season and as they showed against Fingallians in the league in March, they can hurt teams with their pace. However, despite losing by a point to Lucan Sarsfields at the weekend (a win against Ballyboden in their remaining game should earn them a top four spot) SytSylvester's were boosted by the return of Eoin Fanning. Fanning got through a half hour in a recent challenge against Rhode while coming through a full game against Sarsfields. The forwards' return comes at a good time for Syls who go into Thursday's game without defender Glen Hazely. Hazely's older brother Ross is expected to line out alongside John Coughlan in the middle although competition is good in the midfield. Bannigan also can call on the likes Shane O'Connor and Padraig Bracken but has been very impressed with Hazely in particular. 'He has been outstanding this season and to be honest I wouldn't swap him for any midfielder in Dublin at the moment - and Glen is a great bit of stuff as well.' 'I think he was very unlucky not to get the Dublin call up along with Brian Sexton and Micheal McCarthy.' At 26 Sexton remains a key figure for Syls with his ability to steal possession and open up defences making him a formidable opponent. And while Parnell Park has served up mixed fortunes for the Malahide men, Sylvesters have the firepower to win it up front where former Plunketts man, Conor Daly, and Offaly man, Nigel Dunne, have slotted in well alongside established names like Darren Clarke and McCarthy.

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