After a championship that received the final that it deserved, Kilmacud Crokes joint-manager Kieran Dowling was quick to recognise the influence that the younger players have had in bringing the Go Ahead Dublin Senior Hurling Championship title back to Páirc De Búrca.
Crokes have suffered three final defeats since their previous success back in 2014 but the emergence of their less experienced players has brought a freshness to their challenge according to the Offaly native (pictured).
“Look at the team that was there, three of those lads, Dara Purcell, Cian Ó Cathasaigh and Davy Crowe were here three months ago in the minor hurling final and then you add in the other lads like Mark Grogan and Eddie Gibbons, so there’s been huge turnover from that team three years ago, that lost to Ballyboden St Enda’s in the final.
“Brian Sheehy is here as well so when you change that many, it changes the dynamic.
“It re-energises and we just drove it on and they’re not afraid of anything and they’ve their own bit of hurt.
“Some of them were on the Dublin team that lost the 2020 All-Ireland Under-20 final so they were ready to go again. They wanted to purge their own pain,” he added.
That these players have been able to make such a positive impression is no surprise given the efforts made at grass roots in Glenalbyn at developing their own talent.
Winning the past three Minor ‘A’ Championships is reflective of those efforts with Dowling quick to acknowledge all the hard work that has proved central in returning Crokes to the top of the pile in club hurling, without the assistance of too many imports.
“Lorcan McMullan played Under-21 for us and when he came down to us, he won a freshers with UCD with five of the Kilmacud lads.
“He’s here with us ever since while Marc Howard is the only other one.
“Everybody else came through the nursery and even this morning, Donal McGovern and Diarmuid Howley were down at the nursery with their kids so the next generation is coming fast behind and we just keep going.
“If you look at a programme from the 1996 final where there was probably seven of our own and eight outsiders.
“We started with fourteen today with Marc on the sideline, so twenty-seven out of twenty-nine players were our own, homegrown through the nursery the whole way up and there’s more coming.
“We won the minor title in 2020 a couple of months ago so we’ll have more coming in from that as well and we just keep building and building and building,” he said.
Crokes will now face Raharney in the provincial championship with Dowling keen for his side to extend their campaign as long as possible.
“We said it to the lads on Thursday night, chances do not come often so when they do, you have to take them.
“Cuala set the standard for Dublin teams in Leinster. Ballyboden had gone part of that journey. We will not be hanging around, we’ll do our best and we’ll get ready for Raharney.”