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Dolan backs Garrycastle cousins to cut down 'Cross

WHEN he takes his seat at Croke Park on St Patrick's Day, Frankie Dolan will do so with mixed emotions.

He feels strongly that his St Brigid's side should have gone a step further and reached a second All-Ireland final in a row, while he would relish another crack at the Crossmaglen Rangers team that ended his AIB All-Ireland Club final dream last year.

Instead, he will be cheering on his cousins in the Garrycastle team, who got the better of their neighbours in the semi-final.

He has his own regrets, but now he wants the Westmeath club to seize the day and make sure they have none of their own. "I hope they do the business," he said. "It is possible that they could cause a shock if they can keep Jamie Clarke and Oisin McConville quiet.

"If they can break even at midfield, I think they could go a long way. If they play as well as they did against us... I thought our midfield would get the better of them having looked at Garrycastle for a long time, but they showed a great hunger and intensity, which we didn't.

"If they can do that against Crossmaglen and get good ball into Dessie (Dolan), James Dolan and Paddy Mulvihill inside, then they can do damage.

"They are a good team, they are in an All-Ireland final so they have a chance."

Dolan has faced Cross' twice in his club career and lost both times.

Personally, he does not fear the Armagh kingpins, but their reputation can get to more inexperienced players, as he found out last year.

"From my own point of view, I wasn't worried about Crossmaglen," he explained. "We had played badly against them in 2006 and only lost by a goal, so I knew they were only human -- and it was the same in the final last year.

"But talking to some of the younger guys last year, a couple of them were in awe of playing Crossmaglen. They probably grew up watching them winning finals and semi-finals.

"If we knew they were like that before the game, it wouldn't have happened.

"It is just experience. You just have to go out and get stuck in from the word go.

"You might not ever get this chance again so you shouldn't be worrying about yellow cards or anything like that. You need to tear into Crossmaglen to beat them."

Dolan believes that there are lessons for Garrycastle to take from St Brigid's defeat 12 months ago.

"We had a great chance to beat them," Dolan said. "But when you look back on it we probably played into their hands a bit too much.

"We depended on Senan Kilbride, but I think if you move the ball quickly against Crossmaglen, don't carry the ball into the tackle and do a lot more kicking you can catch them out.

"If you carry the ball into them then you will get turned over because they are very strong, but if you kick it into the full-forward line as quickly as you can, you can hurt them.

"They are training together, playing together; they are close knit. Even behind the scenes you have Francie Bellew, the McEntees giving their knowledge. Oisin is still playing, so there is huge experience around the club.

"But, they are missing their full-back from last year, Paul Kernan, while his brother Stephen is suspended. So maybe they wouldn't be as strong as last year."

His cousins will be hoping he's right.