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Ballagh boys built to Kil' off Crokes

IT'S been implied this week by some of the Kilmacud number (and should be taken very much as a compliment) that Oulart-The Ballagh are the Ballyboden St Enda's of Wexford.

The inference being that like the now fallen, five-in-a-row achievers of last year and the year before and, for that matter, the year before ... this Leinster club Championship is so much a bonus for winning the county crown but a pre-requisite before the local competition even started.



PEAK

Boden did, for the record, time their training over the last couple of seasons to peak when Leinster arrived and you couldn't but come to the conclusion that Oulart are bobbing along in the same boat.

They won their fourth successive Wexford title over three weeks ago now so the heads have been very much screwed in for their big trip to Parnell Park for quite some time.

By extension, they also have all the experience of this weirdly timed but, at times, epic Championship. It's worth recalling that prior to last year's Leinster club final, they were favourites with every bookies for the All-Ireland.

Ballyhale Shamrocks had been vanquished in Kilkenny and Portumna in Galway and Oulart looked the best of the rest yet they conspired to let that billing affect their performance and a bad loss to Offaly's Coolderry.

If anything, they look stronger this year but, as Ballyboden themselves might testify, that is a guarantee of nothing here. Yes, they eased to a five-point county final win over Faythe Harriers, enjoying the luxury of bringing both Paul Roche and Michael Jacob off the bench whilst Rory Jacob and Nicky Kirwan amassed 1-3 each from the corners.

Further back, Dessie Mythen and David Redmond were industrial dervishes of energy and efficiency whilst Keith Rossiter and Darren Stamp protected the spine of their defence with zealous energy and no little craft.



AMBUSH

Which isn't to say that Crokes can't win here. On the contrary, the ambush has long been perfected in the provincial club championships, particularly when a new county winner such as Kilmacud are awarded a home draw against fancier opponents, but they'll have it tough.

Niall Corcoran will be required to be at his vigilant best while all three of the O'Carrolls (Rory, Ross and Bill) need the sort of Trojan shift which they have hung their illustrious reputations on over the past few years.

So too will Crokes need to extract more scores and energy from Ryan O'Dwyer, Conor Clinton and Seánie McGrath but they have a smattering of real talent, home advantage and, judging by the noises coming from Glenalbyn this week, reams of confidence and high ambitions.

Oulart-The Ballagh to squeeze a tight one.

ODDS: Kilmacud Crokes 13/8, Draw 9/1, Oulart-The Ballagh 8/13

VERDICT: Oulart-The Ballagh


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