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Focus key if Crokes to overcome Fianna

KILMACUD, the holders, were held o a draw by Brigid's on opening night.

KILMACUD CROKES v NA FIANNA (TONIGHT, PARNELL PK, 6.45)

Crokes were five points up with seven minutes left.

Last season the Stillorgan side didn't drop a point in the pool stage as they progressed to win their first Dublin SHC title since 1985.

Na Fianna fell to St Jude's in their first assignment. The Glasnevin club hit 1-20. Joey Boland got 1-14 of that total. Boland was baking bread all over the house, from play and frees. His fellow Dublin senior Martin Quilty added to the purse.

It will take a good strike to beat the Crokes custodian Matt Collins and then there's the O'Carrolls and the O'Rorkes, plus the valuable presence of Niall Corcoran and Ryan O'Dwyer.

Na Fianna will ask a few questions of the five-time champions, but if Kilmacud Crokes are ahead approaching the last bend, they'll make doubly sure to pull down the shutters good and tight. VERDICT: Kilmacud Crokes

ST JUDE'S v ST BRIGID'S (TONIGHT, PARNELL PARK, 8.15)

BRIGID'S made the quarter-final last year. They gave Crokes a run for it. Two weeks ago they engineered a late spurt and showed spirit to force a draw against Crokes.

That will instill confidence. Jude's will also be in positive mood following their victory over Na Fianna. Corner-forward Tom Devlin did well. Danny Sutcliffe won a lot of breaking ball and there was polish in the finishing of John Ryan and Joe McManus.

Late strikes from Ronan Joyce and Sam Lehane won it for the Templeogue lads. Like Brigid's, they have some elegant artists. And a flourishing youth academy. The action should hum along. Alan Nolan is the Brigid's number one and they have calibre in the sticks of Mick Cussen, Conor Ryan and Paddy McAvinue.

VERDICT: St Brigid's

BALLINTEER ST JOHN'S v FAUGHS (TONIGHT, O'TOOLE PARK, 7.15)

CONOR McCANN is still the High King of Tymon. He can make the hurley talk ... and sing.

Emmet McKenna is also a fabulous Faughs fusilier, while Pat Robinson and Seán White always bring generous donations.

Faughs were beaten by Plunkett's/Eoghan Ruadh in their opening tie. Ballinteer St John's lost to Crumlin.Aodhán Clabby had the net dancing and Joe Maher struck a delicious point. Jack ó Giollagain came up with a neat goal, but by the time Ciarán Lane added Ballinteer's third goal, the Fat Lady had ordered a taxi. Both sides will be very keen to get the win that will keep them in the frame. The hurling should be as crisp as a Tayto.

VERDICT: Ballinteer St John's

- BY NIALL SCULLY


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