Fianna fans in for feast at Finglas
TOMORROW morning sees the start of the Dublin Minor Hurling Championships, with the 'A' renewal likely to offer a feast of top class hurling over the coming weeks.
The eight sides involved are divided in two round-robin groups of four with the top two in either group advancing to the semi-finals later this autumn as they hope to follow in the footsteps of Kilmacud Crokes, who claimed the 2009 crown against St Vincent's.
Crokes find themselves pitted against both Na Fianna and Erin's Isle as well as starting the defence of their crown with a tricky visit to Páirc Naomh Uinseann to face Vincent's.
Kilmacud have also struggled with consistency, mixing impressive league displays against Castleknock and Erin's Isle with mediocre performances against Vins and Na Fianna.
Na Fianna's trip to Finglas to face Isle's on Sunday morning bears all the hallmarks of a classic local derby with manager Colm Ó Ceallacháin expecting a cracking contest.
"We couldn't have had a tougher assignment than Isle's away for our first game," said Ó Ceallacháin "They, along with Ballyboden, were the two best teams in the league and we're expecting a serious battle.
"Training has been going well, and although we're in a tough group and entering the Dragon's Den on Sunday, we're really looking forward to an exciting and close championship. If we manage to get out of the group by the skin of our teeth, then we'd be delighted", added Ó Ceallacháin.
The Na Fianna manager expects a strong showing from both Ballyboden and St Jude's in Group 1 with the Tymon Park club strengthened by the return from injury of Dublin minor captain Robert Hardy, alongside arguably Dublin's most impressive performer this year, Danny Sutcliffe.
Lucan will have an excellent opportunity with players of the calibre of Chris Crummey, Emmet Ó Conghaile and Seán McClelland, while Castleknock had an unlucky league campaign, losing by narrow margins on a number of occasions and will be stronger for the experience.
However, it is Boden who will enter the championship as marginal favourites with their display in beating Na Fianna the most impressive of the year, although their preparations have been hindered by recent injuries to Dublin minor panellists Eoin Small and Brian McCarthy.
However, with the likes of Naoise Maguire, Niall Ryan, John Breen and Cillian Moffatt to call upon, there is great depth to St Enda's challenge, although manager John Small is reluctant to look beyond Sunday's clash with Castleknock.
He said: "We're very much looking forward to it with all the teams having a great chance of doing well this year. It's going to be incredibly tight I'd imagine."