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St Brigid's pull in Premier crowd pleasers for opening night

"I hope Eoin Kelly is playing on Saturday night." So said the great man himself, Micheál Ó Muircheartaigh, and, as is usual, there was a story behind the wish.

"I remember when here at St Brigid's some years ago we were debating what type of surface to get on our new all-weather pitch," explained Mícheál.

"We were away on the All Star trip, and myself and Eoin used to take off looking at all kinds of different pitches.

"When I saw one that was the same as the turf that we were thinking of here, I sent Eoin out to test it. He turned this way and that way, bounced the ball, sprinted, jogged and hit shots along the ground.

"Afterwards he said that hurlers would love it. Tipperary come here to Russell Park to play on it next Saturday night. It's a magnificent surface. Eoin Kelly had a hand in picking it, so I'm asking all the Dublin hurlers to go easy on him."

Once again, the master's voice had struck the perfect pitch. Smiles all round in the St Brigid's clubhouse. It was the launch night for the special night -- the night that the Tipp boys come to Blanch.

They'll play Dublin in a senior challenge in Russell Park next Saturday (7.30) as Brigid's officially open their six new dressing rooms, hurling wall and handball alley.

"We are expecting a big crowd," says Brigid's chairman Fintan O'Sullivan. "There are a lot of hurling people in Dublin and we hope to see them come along on Saturday.

"It's a very attractive match. Tipperary are up there as one of the best teams in the country."

Fintan is pleased with the progress at the club. "We have put a lot of work into the facilities in the past few years. The new dressing rooms and the hurling wall complete the latest phase of our development. The next part will be the car park and putting in a new sand-based pitch. That's a couple of years down the road, but when everything is finished we'll have one of the best grounds in the country."

Fintan is also happy with the progress of the hurling. "Hurling is going well. Our senior team are back in the senior championship now and they are all home-based players.

"We have three players on the Dublin senior squad and three on the Dublin under-21 panel, so we must be doing something right out here."

The senior hurling boss is Tim O'Mahony, who confirms that the all-weather surface is worth more than a few points to Brigid's every season.

He explains: "At this time of the year, we focus on the physical training -- building the strength and stamina, but because of the all-weather pitch we are still able to get in some ball work. It's so suited for hurling.

"It's a fantastic facility to have. It's used all the time, from five in the evening to 10 at night. I think that the man the ground is named after here, Tom Russell, would be very proud if he walked in here today."

And club secretary Eileen Purtell declares that the show will go on. "Team work is what makes everything happen here," states Eileen. "We have such marvellous people doing such great work. That's the backbone of it. People like the mentors who run all the juvenile teams."

All ages will be there to see Saturday Night Live, the duel between two of the finest young managers in the game: Anthony Daly and Liam Sheedy.

The farmer's friend, Damien O'Reilly, will be once again on sound. He did a super job for the St Declan's spectacular.

But, as ever, the last word goes to the high king of the commentary box: "I have been getting daily bulletins about this game from Don O'Mahony. He says it's going to be a great game, and I'm sure he's right."

p 5.15: Dublin v Kilkenny (Camogie)

p 6.30: Official opening of new facilities by Gerry Harrington, Dublin County Board Chairman.

p 7.30: Dublin v Tipperary (Senior Hurling)

p For further details on transport and travel, please visit www.stbrigidsgaa.com