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SMART 'MUN IS ON KICKHAMS

With the Dublin Senior Football Championship having resumed to great acclaim almost a fortnight ago, that interest will only increase with some mouth-watering quarter-finals on the agenda this coming weekend.

Holders Ballymun Kickhams moved serenely into the last eight following a facile win over Erin's Isle 11 days ago, and they will resume their title defence when they face Raheny in three days' time.

Paul Curran's men will be expected to progress to the semi-finals but predicting the identity of the remaining three challengers is less straightforward with some typically tight scenarios expected.

Granted, our rankings could look extremely foolish by Sunday teatime but we'll nonetheless attempt to rate the protagonists based on all known evidence.

The holders showed few ill-effects of the lengthy lay-off when crushing Erin's Isle by 31 points last Friday week with 10 players contributing to their impressive 4-23 tally.

Their selection maintains their influential half-back line of Alan Hubbard, Karl Connolly and James Burke and an already threatening forward line has been augmented by the acquisition of Liam O'Donovan.

If their insatiable hunger from last year has not been sated, the title holders look primed to record back-to-back SFC successes, the first since Kilmacud Crokes' successive triumphs in 2004 and 2005.

p Record to date: Beat Round Tower Clondalkin (1-19 to 1-4); Beat Erin's Isle (4-23 to 0-4).

pLast winners: 2012

pTalisman: Alan Hubbard

pHerald Ranking: 1

The so-called "dark horses" tag was well and truly dismissed as Vinnies announced themselves as serious contenders after their 17-point win over Na Fianna.

Ciarán Dorney appears to be thriving in the added responsibility of the number 14 jersey while Gavin Burke has settled into the side seamlessly following his progression from the minor ranks.

Their defence will be tested by a vibrant Sylvester's forward line but they can count on the experience of Jarlath Curley, Hugh Gill and Ger Brennan in curbing that threat in what looks a very settled Vincent's outfit.

pRecord to date: Beat Cuala (0-11 to 0-6); Beat Na Fianna (2-24 to 2-7).

pLast winners: 2007

pTalisman: Tomás Quinn

pHerald Ranking: 2

The Blanchardstown men appear to have adopted a highly attacking style which has seen them accumulate 12 goals in successive wins over Whitehall Colmcille and Thomas Davis to date.

That's hardly surprising given the forward talent at their disposal with Philly Ryan, Kevin Bonner and Emlyn Mulligan in their ranks while Paddy Andrews has been one of, if not the best attacker in Dublin club football in recent times.

Concerns still exist about their defence, especially following their capitulation to Kilmacud in last year's semi-final, while Shane Supple's magnificent form between the sticks is another positive for Brigid's.

pRecord to date: Beat Whitehall Colmcille (7-16 to 0-5); Beat Thomas Davis (5-16 to 0-17).

pLast winners: 2011

pTalisman: Paddy Andrews

pHerald Ranking: 3

Last year's semi-finalists have quietly put together an impressive campaign with two potential "banana-skins" safely navigated in respective comfortable wins over St Anne's and UCD.

There seems less of a reliance on Kevin McManamon (left) this year with full-forward Declan Donnelly highlighting his potential with two well-taken goals against the Students while Mark Sweeney hardly wasted a pass from wing-forward.

Gareth Roche shone as full-back when curbing the influence of John Heslin and the Templeogue men could well match, if not better, their 2012 placing if they can replicate the drive and intensity of that display.

pRecord to date: Beat St Anne's (0-19 to 0-4); Beat UCD (3-12 to 1-5).

pLast winners: n/a

pTalisman: Gareth Roche

pHerald Ranking: 4

Sylvester's have traditionally been a tough team to assess but there was no doubting the quality of their attacking play when overcoming Ballinteer St John's by 11 points 11 days ago.

Cavan senior Eugene Keating has embellished an attack that also boasts the talents of Nigel Dunne, Gary Sweeney, Micheál McCarthy and the underrated Eoin Fanning.

They key for Syls is garnering sufficient possession in the middle third to supply that aforementioned quintet, which could well prove easier said than done.

pRecord to date: Beat Clontarf (2-16 to 3-8); Beat Ballinteer St John's (1-19 to 1-8).

pLast winners: 1996

pTalisman: Eugene Keating

pHerald Ranking: 5

The Coolock men have been heavily indebted to the brilliance of Conor Mortimer en route to the last eight with the Mayo man accruing 1-14 (0-5f) in facile wins over O'Toole's and Templeogue Synge Street.

His continuing well-being is pivotal to Parnell's chances while Jonathan Bealin and Rory Quinlivan have both enjoyed strong seasons in the engine room of midfield.

St Jude's will be a step-up on what they've encountered to date and doubts remain on whether they are sufficiently battle-hardened to come through that tie.

pRecord to date: Beat O'Toole's (1-14 to 0-6); Beat Templeogue Synge Street (1-22 to 0-5).

pLast winners: 1988

pTalisman: Conor Mortimer

pHerald Ranking: 6

Amid all the controversy that accompanied Boden's win over Kilmacud Crokes in the previous round, there was no doubting the spirit of the winners as they recovered from a lethargic opening.

Ryan Basquel continues to flourish at centre-forward although St Enda's will look for more consistent contributions from Kenny Naughton, Conal Keaney and Andrew Kerin.

Their defence, in which Stephen Hiney, Robbie McDaid and Stephen O'Connor all excelled at O'Toole Park, will face more concerted pressure against Brigid's and how they cope with that threat will be pivotal to their chances.

pRecord to date: Beat Lucan Sarsfields (2-18 to 3-9); Beat Kilmacud Crokes (2-9 to 0-12).

pLast winners: 2009

pTalisman: Stephen Hiney

pHerald Ranking: 7

Raheny look to have been handed, what appears on paper, the toughest draw of the lot as they face reigning holders Ballymun on Friday evening.

Their character cannot be questioned having come through tough assignments against St Maur's and Fingal Ravens, but the strength in depth available to Ciarán Whelan can not be said to match that of his opposite number, Paul Curran.

Seán Swords, Eoghan Keogh and Gavin Ivory have all progressed from recent county minor teams while the experience of David Henry could prove crucial on what could be a tough night for his side.

pRecord to date: Drew with St Maur's (1-8 to 0-11); Beat St Maur's (0-17 to 1-12 AET); Beat Fingal Ravens (1-13 to 2-9).

pLast winners: N/A

pTalisman: Gavin Ivory

pHerald Ranking: 8


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