LEINSTER CLUB SHC SEMI-FINAL
BALLYBODEN ST ENDA'S (Dublin) v COOLDERRY (Offaly)
(Parnell Park, Tomorrow 2.30)
BALLYBODEN'S close encounter of the fraught kind with Clonkill last Sunday may have surprised a few neutral onlookers -- but probably not the note-scribbling spies from Coolderry.
Last year, after all, the Offaly champions actually did fall prey to a Westmeath ambush, dumped out of Leinster by an unheralded Raharney.
Some 12 months on, and presumably one year wiser, Coolderry may well relish the fact that this time they are the outsiders -- albeit underdogs with the potential to inflict a fatal bite if Ballyboden don't bring their 'A' game to Donnycarney.
It may be dangerous to make assumptions based on one hour's hurling, but last Sunday's quarter-final suggested a number of things about the five-in-a-row Dublin champions.
Firstly, they were crying out for such a competitive game after cruising through Dublin -- ergo, Clonkill may have done Liam Hogan a huge favour as he plots the downfall of his native club.
Secondly, the further 'Boden advance in Leinster, the more they are likely to miss the physical presence, experience, leadership and hurling nous of Stephen Hiney in defence and especially Conal Keaney in attack.
Their three other county senior forwards -- Simon Lambert, Conor McCormack (1-1 apiece) and Paul Ryan (0-8, two from play) -- all had their moments in Mullingar but none grabbed the game by its lapels in the way a fit Keaney might well have done when the occasion demanded.
'Boden still have plenty of quality in defence (where Malachy Travers stood out last weekend), but those backs will have to be on the ball against forwards of the calibre of Brian Carroll, Cathal Parlon and Damien Murray. We trust they will, just about.
ODDS: Ballyboden 1/2, Draw 8/1, Coolderry 19/10