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THREE FOR THE PRICE OF ONE

Castleknock will hope it's a case of third-time lucky when they face Kenmare Shamrocks in their All-Ireland Junior Football Championship semi-final second replay, scheduled for next Saturday in Croke Park (5.30).

Saturday's replay had rightly attracted a large crowd following the heroics of last Sunday week, when both sides had their chances to progress, and a similar scenario evolved in Cashel at the weekend between two exceptionally well-matched teams.

Both sides have lived on the edge in the series to date and familiarity will add to the tightness of the occasion, with Castleknock mentor Ray Holland highlighting the importance of mental toughness when assessing his side's chances next weekend.

"We've worked very hard on the mental side of things since the initial draw last Sunday week and that is something that is very important when dealing with a replay.

"Sometimes replays don't have the same intensity for whatever reason, but I felt we had that on Saturday and we'd be looking for a similar degree of intensity next weekend.

"Generally, the winner is decided not on desire or fitness but on the mental toughness of the respective teams and I expect that to be the case on Saturday," said Holland.

The former Dublin player, who was involved in another enthralling series himself back in 1991 when part of Paddy Cullen's Dubs against Meath, is well versed in what can be learned between games, both from his own side's perspective and that of the opposition.

"I think we learned a lot about them (Kenmare) from the first day and their display on Saturday would have reinforced our opinions.

"They play a blanket style of defence that is difficult to break down and they have an excellent talisman in Paul O'Connor.

"We spoke about nullifying his presence but it is easier said than done. I reckon that if we can marshal him effectively and reduce his threat, I think we'll be half-way there," he said.

While the initial draw was a more dogged and defensive encounter, Saturday's 1-18 to 0-21 draw saw both teams at their attacking best with Holland effusive in his praise for the quality and standard produced by both teams.

SKILLS

"I thought the quality was exceptional throughout the 80 minutes and thankfully it was played on a better pitch than the first game.

"We let it slip on a couple of occasions and it certainly wasn't good for the heart, but the standard of football was very high and the skills shown on both sides were of the highest standard.

"One of the points that Ciarán (Kilkenny) (who scored 0-10, 6f) kicked had the whole stand applauding and that's the kind of positive you can take from the game.

"We have a very young team, with three minors playing, and they are learning all the time. The great thing about them is that they have no fear of losing and they don't know when they're beaten," concluded selector Holland.


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