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The final 'four-told'

SUNDAY'S Evening Herald Dublin SFC final features unquestionably, the two best teams in the county in this season of seasons for Dublin football.

Neighbours -- and in many cases, inter-county mates and former school friends -- they might well be, but St Oliver Plunkett's/ER versus St Brigid's in the championship is an occasion which never passes by without an explosion of fireworks.

The Navan Road club have the Footballer of the Year from the past two All-Ireland SFC seasons, Alan and Bernard Brogan, and further All-Ireland medalists in their younger brother, Paul, Ross McConnell and Jason Sherlock mixed with the talents recent inter-county players Anthony Moyles and Conor Evans.

They have, however, yet to break their county title duck, despite going close in each of the past three seasons.

For their part, Brigid's were last year's beaten finalists and were irresistible in their 10-point demolition of Ballyboden St Enda's in the quarter-final before drawing deep into their well of resolve in disposing of Ballymun Kickhams after extra-time in their semi.

But buttressed by the proven talents of Barry Cahill, Paddy Andrews, Seán Murray and John O'Loughlin along with the in-form Philly Ryan and the incredible goalkeeping reflexes of Shane Supple -- perhaps the only player to rival Bernard Brogan in terms of consistent excellence in the championship thus far -- Brigid's have something of an indian sign over their dearest of neighbours after beating them at the semi-final last year.

We asked four players who had suffered defeat at the hands of one or the other in the latter rounds of the championship how they feel Sunday's final will go.

MICHAEL DARRAGH MACAULEY

(BALLYBODEN ST ENDA'S)

WHO WILL WIN?

"Brigid's. Just about."

WHY?

"I think they have the experience. And I think they have the upperhand on them at the moment. They beat them last year and they look like they just have the upperhand."

WHAT DO YOU REGARD AS BRIGID'S STRENGTHS?

"What makes them a good team is that they are very solid all over the park. John O'Loughlin and Barry Cahill are playing very well in midfield and they're a very hard unit to break down. They're forwards have been in good form as well."

WHAT DO YOU REGARD AS PLUNKETT'S STRENGTHS?

"Obviously, they have the sharp-shooters. The Brogans are up there and everyone knows it. But their backs against the Brigid's forwards could be where the game is won and lost."

KEY INDIVIDUAL BATTLE?

"I think if Seán Murray can do a job on Bernard Brogan, that will quieten them down a lot. Bernard Brogan is going to score in this game regardless of what anyone does. But if Seánie can just keep the reins on him a bit, that could just about make all the difference in the end."

BERNARD BROGAN GOES THROUGH LATE IN THE MATCH ONE-ON-ONE WITH SHANE SUPPLE ... WHO COMES OUT ON TOP?

"It's a tough one to call. But I think Supple is a great shot-stopper. He's shown it all championship. Having said that, I wouldn't rule Berno out either. I'd love to see it happen..."

BRIAN KAVANAGH

(KILMACUD CROKES)

WHO WILL WIN?

"I think Plunkett's will go in as slight favourites because they have so many individually talented players. I'd go with them."

WHY?

"You look at the forwards Plunkett's have got in 'Nesty' Smith, the two Brogans, Jayo and Anthony Moyles coming out around the middle of the field. That sort of quality should sway it in their direction."

WHAT DO YOU REGARD AS BRIGID'S STRENGTHS?

"Brigid's are known for their organisation and as a team, they're a very good unit. When you look down the middle of the team, they have Seán Murray and then Barry Cahill in the middle of the field. You have Paddy Andrews in the forwards too. When we played them, their half-forwards and their half-backs... everybody chipped in with the work. That's the Brigid's strength. From one to 15, they have no weak links at all."

WHAT DO YOU REGARD AS PLUNKETT'S STRENGTHS?

"It's a local derby and Brigid's beat them last year on a really wet day. That defeat should spur Plunkett's on. I know that Brigid's are very strong at the back and they have a few quality forwards but if the weather holds up and it's a dry day, I think that will just suit Plunkett's forwards."

KEY INDIVIDUAL BATTLE?

"If Barry Cahill is able to give Brigid's a good platform in the middle of the field and stop the flow going into the Plunkett's attackers, that will help Brigid's case. He had a huge game against us. So if Brigid's win the midfield battle and give their forwards enough chance to get scores on the board, that will be key for Brigid's. A lot will come down to the Dublin boys, too. Seán Murray picking up Bernard Brogan but who's going to pick up Alan? It's hard to call who will be marking who."

BERNARD BROGAN GOES THROUGH LATE IN THE MATCH ONE-ON-ONE WITH SHANE SUPPLE...WHO COMES OUT ON TOP?

"I would have to say Supple. He has been absolutely amazing. Against us last year -- I know we got one or two past him -- but a few of the saves he produced against us this year against Mark Vaughan were phenomenal. He's a brilliant, brilliant goalie."

STEPHEN O'SHAUGHNESSY

(LUCAN SARSFIELDS)

WHO WILL WIN?

"St Oliver Plunkett's/ER"

WHY? "Bernard Brogan!"

WHAT DO YOU REGARD AS BRIGID'S STRENGTHS?

"Physically, Brigid's are a very strong team, they have very good full-forward line and in Barry Cahill and John O'Loughlin, one of the best midfields in Dublin."

WHAT DO YOU REGARD AS PLUNKETT'S STRENGTHS?

"They're a very mobile team, possess a very good midfield and excellent forwards."

KEY INDIVIDUAL BATTLE?

"Seán Murray versus Bernard Brogan and Barry Cahill against Ross McConnell."

BERNARD BROGAN GOES THROUGH LATE IN THE MATCH ONE-ON-ONE WITH SHANE SUPPLE...WHO COMES OUT ON TOP? "Bernard Brogan."

TOMáS QUINN

(ST VINCENT'S)

WHO WILL WIN?

"Plunkett's."

WHY?

"They have been close in last few years and are back in a final without really playing well. After losing to Brigid's last year I think they'll just shade it."

WHAT DO YOU REGARD AS BRIGID'S STRENGTHS?

"Their work-rate as a team and their ability to dominate breaking ball in middle third."

WHAT DO YOU REGARD AS PLUNKETT'S STRENGHTS?

"Their full-forward line -- if they get enough quality ball they will be very hard to stop."

KEY INDIVIDUAL BATTLE?

"Barry Cahill versus Ross McConnell."

BERNARD BROGAN GOES THROUGH LATE IN THE MATCH ONE-ON-ONE WITH SHANE SUPPLE ... WHO COMES OUT ON TOP?

"As a forward I'm gonna give Berno the nod and say he finishes, although Shane gets a hand on it!"


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