THE champions back at play... and at work. Crokes filled in all the blanks since 1985.
And they did it in style. They didn't lose a match. They hardly lost a tackle.
Their back wall stood tall. The Stillorgan orchard was not for pruning.
Crokes had been steadily climbing over the years. They reached the final in 2008, but most felt they had more to give.
Last year they proved it. And on the way they met St Brigid's in the quarter-final. It proved a terrific match.
It took place in O'Toole Park early on a Sunday morning. A big crowd arrived. The referee was a VIP – James 'Shiner' Brennan of Kilkenny and Dublin.
Brigid's played with much heart. It could never be any other way with Ger Ryan as manager. They had guile too.
Two first-half goals proved telling for Crokes, but the drama lingered on right till the last chapter. With six minutes left, there were still only three points in it. There were many Brigid's Braves – Alan Nolan, Aodan McEnerney, John O'Loughlin and Paddy McAvinue.
This repeat fixture should have the Donnycarney bulbs crackling.
Brigid's play a neat brand of hurling. They have made impressive strides in the last few years.
The championship triumph will fill Kilmacud with confidence. And they will work harder than ever to hold onto the crown. Hard work is a given in Pairc de Burca with its indoor hurling facility and massive skills wall.
Crokes contain class all over the building – Niall Corcoran, Gary McMorrow, Rob O'Loughlin, Ryan O'Dwyer, Ross O'Carroll, Sean McGrath and many more.
First day back against Brigid's will test the first touch... and the resolve.
VERDICT: Kilmacud Crokes