Kilmacud bidding to end their long wait


NEITHER CUALA nor Kilmacud Crokes will need any extra incentive going into Sunday’s Dublin hurling final – already billed as the uniquely southern southside derby – but there is also the promise of home advantage for whoever progresses into the Leinster club championship.

All four provinces have now confirmed their 2012 fixture lists, with Ulster getting the proceedings underway this weekend with their pair of hurling semi-finals. The remaining provinces don’t open up until the following Sunday week, and continue through until the second Sunday in December, the date for the Leinster club football final.

In the meantime the Cuala-Crokes showdown in Parnell Park this Sunday (3.45) is certainly one of the most unlikely Dublin hurling finals this decade.

Cuala are seeking a first county hurling title in 18 years, and in fact Sunday represents their first final appearance in all the years since their last win, in 1994.

Kilmacud did reach the final in 2008, losing out to Ballyboden St Enda’s, but their wait for the Dublin hurling title is even longer, having last won in 1985.

Both teams have defied the odds in getting this far, with Crokes coming through a tough semi-final against Lucan Sarsfields, while Cuala edged past Craobh Chiaráin in the quarter-final, then Crumlin in the semi-final.

Crokes boast several established players such as Niall Corcoran, Rory O’Carroll, and Ryan O’Dwyer, while Cuala’s scoring threat has been fronted by Barry Connelly and David Treacy.

Whichever club wins will have home advantage for their Leinster club quarter-final, set for November, where they will face the tough challenge of the winners of this Sunday’s Wexford final between Oulart-the-Balagh and Faythe Harriers.

It doesn’t get any easier after that, either, and the winners there are set to meet the Kilkenny champions in the second Leinster semi-final, set for November 25th.

The Dublin football championship is still shifting through some replays, with the first two quarter-finals – St Vincent’s against Ballymun Kickhams and Na Fianna against St Judes – set for tomorrow evening in Parnell Park.

Whoever eventually emerges there will have to travel for their date in the Leinster club football championship, on November 11th, with the Dublin winners drawn against Westmeath (Mullingar Shamrocks are looking to dethrone Garrycastle in that final, set for Sunday week).

In Ulster football, newly crowned Tyrone champions Errigal Chiaráin are straight into the action in the first round game against Cavan champions Mullahoran, set for Sunday week. The winners there will play the Derry champions in the quarter-final.

In Munster football, the Kerry champions are on the opposite side of the draw to the Cork champions while in hurling, the winners of this Sunday’s Tipperary final between Thurles Sarsfields and Drom and Inch are back in action on October 28th for a quarter-final clash against Limerick champions Kilmallock.

The winners there face Cork champions Sarsfields (who last weekend collected a third title in five seasons) on Sunday, November 11th.

Finally, in Connacht, whoever emerges from this Sunday’s Roscommon football final between St Brigid’s and Pádraig Pearses are also back in action soon enough in the provincial quarter-final against Leitrim champions, Melvin Gaels. The winners there will face the Galway champions, that title to be decided on Sunday between Tuam Stars and Salthill-Knocknacarra (live on TG4).

AIB have agreed to renew their sponsorship of the club championships for the 21st year, the full details of which will be announced in Croke Park next Monday. Also agreed at this stage is the draw for the 2013 Leinster minor and under-21 championships, with Dublin – the reigning All-Ireland football champions in both grades – opening their minor defence against Louth, and under-21 defence against Carlow.

The Dublin under-21 hurlers are on the opposite side of the draw to Kilkenny, and will also face Carlow in their first game.

Meanwhile, preparations have concluded for the hosting of the 2012 World Handball Championships, which get underway in Dublin today: over 2,000 players from 30 countries are travelling to compete in the 11-day event, with 21 courts purpose-built in the Citywest Arena. For tickets and match scheduling see www.worldhandball2012.comfor details.

The Gaelic Players Association (GPA) have agreed a new Life Sciences Scholarship programme in association with ICON plc, with special funding being made available to players studying in all the main third level institutions in the island of Ireland, to be granted on an annual basis.

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