| 5.3°C Dublin

'Mun go on blind date

PAUL CURRAN will be the only man in the Ballymun Kickhams dressing-room in Cusack Park on Sunday with Leinster club experience and that may be no bad thing.

Teams -- particularly those who have vanquished a lengthy barren spell without a county title -- tend to stumble into rather than attack these opening-round matches and Curran reckons the lack of familiarity with Sunday's opponents is the ideal platform on which they can focus on producing their best.


"I haven't had a chance really to do a lot of looking," says Curran of Mullingar Shamrocks. "But I think they're similar enough to us. They're young and they've a sprinkling of county players. They have a couple of good inside forwards, a good midfield.

"But I haven't had much of a chance to look at them but they obviously have to have quite a lot about them.

"Garrycastle have been on the go for a good few years and might have been a bit tired coming into the replay but that's not to take away from Shamrocks or their performance or their win."

Noting their penchant for dramatic comebacks, both in their quarter-final win over Tyrrellspass and, famously, the drawn final with Garrycastle, Curran notes: "They do seem to like coming back from the dead, if you like," adding: "But it's not like playing a Dublin club where you know nearly everything about them. We don't know and we're not going to know."

Curran has a clean bill of health and only the suspended Seán George is unavailable for Sunday.

The rest of his troop have celebrated, brought the cup around Ballymun and now, put it away until Christmas prompts the re-emergence of festivities.

They are naturally ambitious, led not just by Dublin clubs' recent success in Leinster and indeed, All-Ireland club fare, but by their manager.

Curran himself soldiered in three Leinster campaigns in his playing days with Thomas Davis, winning two Leinster titles at a time when such feats were less commonplace for Dublin's various emissaries, and notes subtle changes from here on in.

"The provincial championships -- not just Leinster -- they've become more of a level playing field," he suggests. "There are no runaway victories. The pitches are heavy and you've no idea what sort of day you're going to get in November.

"So from that point of view, it can become a bit of a dogfight and the football is very direct.

"It doesn't matter who you're playing, they have to be respected.

"You have to perform as best you can and see where that takes you. But there is no doubt it is a different ball game in terms of conditions and the fact that the opposition are completely unknown to you.

"So there is no point in getting too carried away on the opposition. You just focus on what you're at."

An interesting aside -- if not one entirely relevant to Curran -- is that a number of his players have been told they are part of Jim Gavin's early Dublin plans.


"It's not something we talk about," he insists. "Not at the moment anyway. There is obviously a new guy there and with a new guy coming in, fellas genuinely think they will get a chance if they play well. And they will.

"But we're not thinking about that and trying to keep doing what has worked best for us this year."

Ballymun boast a cohesive forward unit who spread the scoring burden fairly thin, an incalculable asset at this time of year when opposition defences tend to be populated with a mish mash of inter-county players, former inter-county players, young bucks and club stalwarts. They possess an unconventional but highly effective midfield in Davy Byrne and James McCarthy and a hard-working, zealous defence aided and abetted by their industrious half-forward line.

"If you look at the championship from the last four games, we played some terrific football in patches in all four games," assess Curran.

"The fact is, we've had our moments where we've fallen asleep a little bit too. That's going to happen at every championship game in Dublin because the opposition is strong and they'll have their moments of dominance.

"I think we're just trying to make sure we get a consistent performance right through the game and that's what we're really trying to do. If we can do that, we'll be okay," concludes the Ballymun boss.