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Hosts Parnell's putting best foot forward

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Dublin's Stephen Cluxton is credited with starting the trend of goalkeepers hitting long-range frees. Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Dublin's Stephen Cluxton is credited with starting the trend of goalkeepers hitting long-range frees. Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Dublin's Stephen Cluxton is credited with starting the trend of goalkeepers hitting long-range frees. Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

LUNCH-TIME in Coolock. The Parnell's club is busy. Secretary, Brendan Conlon, is upstairs in the vast restaurant lounge area. He looks down on the main pitch.

The best score-board operator in Ireland, Malachy Keena, sits alongside him. It's a long way from Collinstown Lane. The move from their old airport venue to the heart of the village has been a blessing for the community.

"We had 23 founding members back in 1893. Now, we have over 6,000 members, with a third of them being senior citizens," explains Brendan. "They come in here and have their lunch. So many local organisations use the premises. The club is a great focal point for the village of Coolock."

All over the splendid building, there are pictures that tell of times past. The great Patsy Kiernan features in many of them.

Malachy recalls the golden era of Gerry Brady when the club were winning Dublin titles and storming through Leinster.

"There was a time when this locality was just farms and fields. But there always has been a deep footballing tradition," reflects Brendan.

"We have the Dublin captain, Stephen Cluxton, here now, but we can go way back to Dublin's All-Ireland win in 1942 and Brendan Quinn.

"It's great to have someone like Stephen. He's a role model. Not just here, but all over the country. He works so hard on his game. He'd often go out on the pitch there with a bag of balls to practice his kicking. In my view, he's the greatest goalkeeper of them all. Even better than the great Paddy Cullen and John O'Leary."

The prospect of Dublin arriving at Parnell's for the Dublin Bus/The Herald Dubs Stars spectacular has set hearts a flutter.

Down in the corridor, the club's Gym manager, Mayo's Conor Mortimer, is busy. Yet he still has time for the few words, and he's predicting a good day. Brendan readily agrees.

"Everybody has put a lot into the event. It's a big occasion for the club and we are hoping that the weather will be kind."

3Dublin Bus will be running a free shuttle service between Whitehall Church car park to Parnell's ground from 11.30am. The service will continue until after both games have finished. Admission is €10 for adults and free for under-16s.

FIXTURES

SATURDAY

O'BYRNE CUP RD 1

Pearse Park: Longford v DCU, 2.30.

McKENNA CUP RD 1

Castleblayney: Monaghan v UUJ, 2.0.

CONNACHT SHL RD 1

Tourlestrane: Sligo v GMIT, 2.0; Ballinamore: Leitrim v Mayo, 2.0.

SATURDAY

O'BYRNE CUP RD 1

Parnell Park: Dublin v NUI Maynooth, 2.0; Tullamore: Offaly v Laois, 2.0; Newbridge: Kildare v Louth, 2.0; Dr Cullen Park: Carlow v UCD, 2.0; Mullingar: Westmeath v Meath, 2.0; Gorey: Wexford v DIT, 2.0; Blessington: Wicklow v IT Carlow, 2.0.

McGRATH CUP PRELIMINARY RD

Fraher Field: Waterford v UL, 2.0; Mallow: Cork v Mary Institute, 2.0.

McKENNA CUP RD 1

Páirc Esler, Newry: Down v Cavan, 2.0; Owenbeg: Derry v Donegal, 2.0; Brewster Park: Fermanagh v Queen's, 2.0; Athletic Grounds: Armagh v Tyrone, 2.0; Creggan: Antrim v St Mary's, 2.0.

FBD CONNACHT FL RD 1

MacHale Park, Castlebar: Mayo v NUIG, 2.0; Strokestown: Roscommon v IT Sligo, 2.0; Cloone: Leitrim v GMIT, 2.0; Enniscrone: Sligo v Galway, 2.0.


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