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Curran: Mun men must Kick' on to choke Crokes' double chance

PAUL CURRAN had a glint in his eye, "I suppose Crokes are unbeatable at this stage," he smiled.

Ballymun had just qualified for their first Dublin SFC final since 1989, but the Curraner wasn't about to make an appearance on X Factor.

If they could tiptoe down to Donnycarney without anybody noticing, he'd be just as happy.

He's in his second year as King Kickham. He's relishing the role.

Preparation and application are what it's all about. Ballymun were back at their decks early this season.

"This is why you put in all the hard slog over the winter. It's days like the county final that stand out," he reflects.

He has known a few of them himself. He was a champion footballer with the marvellous Thomas Davis three-in-a-row team -- he also enjoyed a very brief spell with Monday's opponents, Kilmacud Crokes (who are chasing an hurling-fooball double), in 1998.

And he was one of Dublin's most celebrated half-backs of all time. As a player, he made it look easy.

He forever seemed to have time and space, and the simple ball was the best ball. But easy it certainly was not. Curraner might have shown all the grace of the swan, but, below surface, the legs, and the mind, were moving quicker than most.

He has brought that work ethic to Páirc Ciceam, not that it wasn't there already. Ballymun have long been one of the best sides in the county.

Consistently at the top of the Division 1 charts and knocking hard on the championship door. But semi-finals didn't like them.

Last year, Brigid's beat them after extra-time in the semi-final. But that's stale bread now.

"No, getting beaten by Brigid's last year had no bearing on us getting to the final this time. It has nothing to do with it at all," asserts Paul.

"We are not trying to get anywhere in particular. We are just trying to win every match. We are in the county final now, so we'll go and enjoy it.

"We are delighted to be there. 1989 is a long time. It's a good reward for such a terrific bunch of players."


But the Sunday Game pundit brings some considered analysis to the Monday Game.

"Even though we beat Jude's to reach the final, I wouldn't be too happy with our display.

"We'll have to be better against Kilmacud Crokes, and I know we can be. Our aim will be to produce a performance."

Back in the Electric Eighties, seeing Mundy on stage was quite a treat. They reached four Dublin SFC finals in that era, winning two (winners in 1982, 1985; runners-up in 1981 and 1989).

Over the years, the Ballymun's Dublin roll-call included names like Davy Byrne, Gerry Hargan, Dermot Deasy, John Kearns, Tommy Carr, Anto McCaul, Declan Sheehan, Adrian Walshe, Darren Ducie, Ian Robertson, Paddy Christie, John McCarthy and Barney Rock.

But it's all about the present generation now. Pat Gilroy had a cluster of Ballymun Braves, and it will be no different with Jim Gavin.

Anto's brother, Gerry McCaul, proved a first-class Dublin manager, and maybe one day, Curraner's call will come.

But such thoughts are firmly on the back stove up in the Autobhan kitchen.

Yet the Curraner thinks there will be definitely something special cookin' in the Parnell parlour.

"It is going to be such a big night. I'll say there will be a huge crowd down there.

"We are looking forward to it, but at the same time we know what to expect.

"That was some comeback Kilmacud had against Brigid's. Crokes are the benchmark for everybody in the county. They have been for 15 years.

"They have won so many trophies. But we can't be thinking about that. We'll focus in on our own game and go out and aim to give of our best," adds the Ballymun boss.