CAUSEWAY are a lovely team.
Well balanced. Great skills. Nice hurlers. A half-back line as talented as any in this championship. John Joe Canty has a fine bunch of hurlers at his disposal. The one big worry for them? They're young. Seriously young. That half-back line of Tommy Barrett, Anthony Fealy and Thomas Casey are all under the age of 22. More under 21s include their brilliant young corner-forward Paul McGrath, Colm Harty and Muiris Delaney.
The old saying goes that if you're good enough you're old enough and these guys are good. Nevertheless we should be wary of expecting too much from them at such an early stage in their careers. They're probably a little ahead in terms of their development this year. This is bonus territory for them. They'll learn a load even if they're beaten on Sunday and come back a stronger side in the years to come – if they can stay together that is.
The fact it's bonus territory for them will make Ballyduff boss PJ O'Grady a little anxious. A team with nothing to lose is a dangerous proposition for a team with everything on the line – even for a club with as august a history as Ballyduff's three in-a-row attempts don't come around very often. O'Grady will look back to Causeway's first game of the championship – against St Brendans – for solace.
It was a game where despite showing a nice turn of a pace and skill Causeway struggled to cope with the sheer physicallity of Pat O'Driscoll's St Brendans. Ballyduff are a better team than St Brendans. They're equally as strong.
A dangerous combination for Causeway's young guns. Ballyduff will have Mikey Boyle back in the fold a huge plus for them on the half-forward line. Barry O'Grady's return to full fitness is another boost.
These are experienced strong hurlers who should, in theory, be capable of winning ball over the heads of Causeway's young, talented, half-back line. Ally O'Connor and David O'Grady are also back in the fold and will boost the reigning champs' defence.
It hasn't all been plain sailing for Ballyduff in recent weeks. Padraig Boyle has been ruled out with a finger injury. PJ Connolly picked up a shoulder injury while playing for the Kerry Under 21s at the weekend, while Paud Costello is rated at fifty / fifty for Sunday's game having picked up a ankle injury in a challenge match last weekend.
Causeway have started their games really well so far in this championship. That's something Ballyduff will want to avoid. They'll keep close tabs on John Mike Dooley to prevent that from happening.
The veteran full forward still has it in spades and provides a nice counterpoint to his younger colleagues. His hunger for goals remains undiminished. Whether Liam Boyle, named at full-back in their last game, is the man to curb him remains to be seen (O'Grady or Jason Bowler are the other options).
Everywhere you look there are reasons to fancy Ballyduff (injuries or not). That doesn't mean that Causeway can't pull off an upset. They can it's just unlikely to happen for them just yet. They might be the team of the future – and we think they are going win a title sooner rather than later if they manage to keep the group together – but Ballyduff remain most definitely the team of the present.