Dedication is paying off for Fingal as final destiny nears

Niall Scully

LATE nights, early mornings. That's the Fingal way.

"We train when we can manage to get a pitch," said manager Willie Bourke.

The dedication has paid off. The Fingal hurlers are scheduled to play in Sunday's NHL Division 3A final against Monaghan in Tullamore (2.0) - all depending on the Monaghan hurlers' impasse with their own County Board being resolved.

It's the first part of a double bill, which will also see the Dubs tackle Galway in the Division 1A relegation tie (4.0).

Willie and company are hoping that the Blue Army will have an early lunch and arrive to cheer them on.

"It was our aim all season to get to the final. We have achieved that. Now, the target is to win it," said Willie.

Dublin already have a trophy in the cabinet. They beat Armagh to land the Kehoe Shield.

"We had no silverware. We said to ourselves that we'd make a big effort this year to put our name on a trophy. We have it on one. Now, hopefully, we can make it two."

Securing the Kehoe Shield and reaching Sunday's final is another boost to hurling in the capital.

"It just goes to show how much Dublin hurling has progressed," said Willie.

"There's 30 lads in the panel and they have given it a big commitment. The majority are from intermediate or junior clubs and hopefully we can now push things on.

"Having a chance of playing for Fingal in the National League will keep fellas loyal to their clubs because they don't have to swap clubs to have a chance of playing inter-county.

"There's room for a Fingal minor side and an U21 team to take part in competitions like the Minor 'C' Championship and the U21 All-Ireland 'B' Championship.

"That might be something to look at as another way of promoting hurling."

Willie's managerial cohorts include his dad, John, Seán McGarry, John Peake and Colm Crowley. "Colm has been such a big help to me. He has a foundation of knowledge, and himself and Fingallians have been instrumental in supporting the Fingal project."

Fingal won four out of five in the league, beating Louth away, Tyrone at home, Sligo away and Donegal at home by a point.

Some 14 different players have scored. JM Sheridan of Fingallians is the top scorer on 2-39 (26 pointed frees and six 65s).

Also high on the scoring charts are Graham Dillon (Trinity Gales, 1-9), Andrew Richardson (St Sylvester's, 2-3) and Peter Daly (Fingallians, 3-0).

There's four Nicky Rackard All-Stars on board -- Peter Coyne (Trinity Gaels), Michael Cussen (St Brigid's) and the Fingallians duo of Dermot Vaughan and Daly.

Fingal's sole league defeat came against Sunday's opponents.

"Monaghan are a very good side. They are well organised," noted Willie. Monaghan beat Fingal by five points at the home of Trinity Gaels.

"It will be an uphill battle for us. We'll need everything to go right for us to get our hands on the cup. Finals can turn up anything. You just don't know how things are going to go."