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War stories can tell for Crokes

DARREN MAGEE was at the launch of the Crokes Sevens on crutches. His bad fortune summed up their season.

Injuries at every turn, but the show goes on, and no better team to keep smiling than Crokes. When the Angelus bell rings in Donnycarney tonight, they'll have the poker faces on, and they'll be prepared to play the cards to the best of their ability.

They are such a hard side to beat. It took the eventual champions, Ballyboden, three spins of the wheel to do it last year. And that after the marathon heroics that led to the All-Ireland title arriving in Stillorgan.

Crokes looked the business against Maur's. Power and precision. They'll have to up it again here.

Syls are having a good spell, topping the tree in Division 1. This is a game that will define their season in many ways.

They have been near enough to the big championship days without quite coming through the door. Now they look more assured than ever. They saved their best till the second half against Fingallians the last night. Eoin Bennis was central to the triumph. Gary Sweeney continues to find his feet at senior level. Down in the village post office, his Dublin U21 deeds still have the senior citizens reeling back the months.

Aidan Relihan and Darren Clarke are proven finishers. Syls have a compact defence driven on by Brian Sexton, while Michael McCarthy and Niall Coughlan also contributed to the victory over Fins.

Crokes also are never in the mood to hand out the Ferrero Rocher and Pat Burke has emerged as a real leader in the absence of their injured warriors. Could be a thriller -- Crokes ... but only just.

Last year -- Kilmacud Crokes: Semi-final. St Sylvester's: 4th Round.

Last time champs -- Kilmacud Crokes: 2008. St Sylvester's: 1996.

2010 Championship Road -- Kilmacud Crokes: Beat Parnells by 8 points. Beat Maur's by 11 points. St Sylvester's: Beat Round Tower, Clondalkin by 8 points. Lost to Plunkett's/ER by a point after extra-time. Beat Fingallians by 5 points.

Form -- Kilmacud Crokes (Division 1): W5 L7 D1. St Sylvester's (Division 1): W9 L3 D1.

VERDICT: Kilmacud Crokes