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Battle Stations

THE BEALO is back in town. He took over from Talts at Parnell's.

This week he'll be shaking hands with an old friend and Dublin team-mate, Paul Curran.

The Coolock club are meeting Ballymun Kickhams in the fourth round of the Evening Herald Dublin Senior Football Championship.

It is one of the matches that will have people twinkling on Twitter. A game to get the juices flowing.

The 'Mun reached the semi-final last year. Brigid's eventually beat them in extra-time.

Kickhams advanced to the last 16 by overwhelming St Patrick's of Palmerstown in an O'Toole Park monsoon.

The weather wasn't as bad when Parnell's met Whitehall in round three, but, like Ballymun, Parnell's, as expected, won with some comfort.

But Ballymun will present quite a different prospect.

"The last day against Whitehall we were just happy to get through, but we know we have to improve hugely on that performance now," says Paul Bealin.

He's relishing the gig. "I must say I am enjoying it. I have been manager here for a couple of months now and it's going well.

"The fact that I am working and living in Dublin makes it much easier to do the job, so that is a big advantage."

Paul has developed quite a managerial CV, which includes stints in charge of Wexford and Carlow. He has also been busy in the club scene.

It has given him that extra insight into the Dublin championship. "I was in Cavan and Laois, and while the standard is good in those counties, it is much higher in Dublin.

"The Dublin championship is far more competitive. You have so many good footballers. Everybody, from the defenders to the forwards, are good players.

"The top teams in Cavan and Laois would be able to compete in Dublin, but it's the strength in depth in Dublin that is the difference. You are meeting strong sides all the time."

He was on the first Ballyboden team to lift the chalice in 1995, and then, as player-manager, he led 'Boden to the Division 1 title.

"They are nice memories to have. I had wonderful days at 'Boden. I have been away now from the Dublin scene for a good few years, but it's great to be back," he said.

Last year's runners-up, St Oliver Plunkett's/ER, are also involved in one of the ties of the round against St Sylvester's.

It is one of the stand-out fixtures in Paddy Canning's plans. Paddy has sampled many a championship campaign in the capital. These days he's managing Whitehall.

He says that coming to the last bend, and timing your run is what winning the Dublin prize is all about.

"There's six or seven teams capable of winning the Dublin championship. It's the side that manages to put three or four good performances together that will do it. This is that stage of the championship that I most look forward to. And I think it's the same for all the spectators.

"There's no back door, no safety net. If you are beaten, you are gone. Back to the good old knock-out championship football.

"That leads to much more excitement for everybody. I'd love to see the championship like that the whole way through."

Syls were sizzling against Division 2 Raheny, who have made such an impression this season, but who were short key personnel against the Malahide men, for whom Conor Daly, Nigel Dunne and Miceál McCarthy flourished up-front.

UCD and Jude's will be interesting. Every club is always wary of the students. But Jude's will be cheered by emerging from a tight tussle against Lucan in Newcastle where Ronan Joyce and the McManamons were singing.

The holders, St Brigid's, will face Thomas Davis where Paul Hudson is in blistering form. The Tallaght side beat Charlie Redmond's Skerries Harps the last day. The 2007 champs, St Vincent's, have an appointment against Maur's who hit six goals against Trinity Gaels, while Na Fianna and Erin's Isle stage a north Dublin derby.

Luke Sweetman, Niall Crossan and John Noonan were on target against Peregrine's in round three, while the impressive Templeogue Synge Street tackle St Patrick's of Palmerstown who caused something of a shock by eliminating St Mary's.

Bealo's old boys, 'Boden, have drawn Kilmacud Crokes. Crokes were champs in 2010, a year after 'Boden lifted their second crown.

The last day, 'Boden had to graft to overcome Conor Deegan's Naomh Mearnóg. There was only a point in it. It's an attractive Southside derby.

Paddy Canning states that the four-day festival could provide much drama. But picking the 2012 Kings of Dublin football doesn't come down to an exact science.

"Ballymun have been super all season. Kilmacud are always hard to beat, and then you'd have Plunkett's. If Bernard Brogan hits form, he could win a match on his own. Last year, not many were tipping St Brigid's to win it, but they did, so you just don't know. That's all part of the excitement."


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