AFTER a frenetic autumn, Ballymun Kickhams have had time to pause and look around them in recent months.
Behind them they have left a trail of destruction. The breathless pace of the Dublin SFC, which can often mean two top-level games in a week, suited them.
They won their first title in 30 years on the October Bank Holiday Monday and were back together by Thursday. The following weekend, Mullingar Shamrocks, who had beaten All-Ireland finalists Garrycastle after a replay in their own county final, were obliterated.
It remained the case for the rest of their Leinster campaign. New ground, different teams, same results. The 'Mun kept on winning.
Manager Paul Curran didn't want to lose the feel-good factor but felt he had no choice but to take most of December off. Hitting the ground running for Saturday's AIB All-Ireland SFC semi-final against a Dr Crokes team who have looked very comfortable is now the challenge.
"The one thing I would be worried about if I was to be worried about anything is that long break, and the break in momentum," admitted Curran (below).
"We went from four games in four weeks in the Dublin championship to the Leinster championship every two weeks, and it worked very well for us having the games come quick and fast.
"Between the final and semi-final there is nine weeks of a gap; it's difficult but we have to deal with it. It's the same for everyone."
Seven of the Ballymun squad are expected to link up with the Dubs when their interest in the club competition ends, and four of them are in Sigerson Cup action this week.
Dr Crokes have blazed a trail back to their second semi-final in as many years. They essentially had their Kerry county final wrapped up before half-time and since then they have stepped up a level. They have yet to concede a goal in that period.
Even still, Ballymun are temptingly priced at 7/4. They'll flood the crucial scoring zones to deny Crokes space and break with pace. In Dean Rock, they boast one of the cleanest strikers of the ball in football, while Ted Furman is in good form.
"There's no doubt Crokes can play football if you let them play – they have quality, just like the teams that we played in Leinster," said Curran.
"You have to trust in your own system and style of play and players and get on the ball and play your game and not be worried too much what they are doing.
"But when they have it, we are going to have to work very hard to get it back and try to limit the damage."