Spotlight on Dublin final
Some insight into the health or otherwise of Dublin football will be available at Parnell Park on Saturday when Kilmacud Crokes and Na Fianna meet in the county final.
The match is being played on Saturday to avoid a clash with the International Rules match between Ireland and Australia at Croke Park on Sunday. Members of the Australian and Irish teams are expected to be in attendance. Crokes, from Stillorgan, have a good record in recent years. They won the title for the first time in 1992 and again in '94 and took the All-Ireland club laurels in 1995. That was when Tommy Lyons was regarded as one of the most influential managers in the game.
Now managed by the former Dublin star of the '70s, Robbie Kelleher, Kilmacud have several players whose names will come readily to mind. They include goalkeeper Mick Pender who gave sterling service to his county without ever getting the recognition he deserved. Recognised also not only by supporters of Down football, but many others, will be Conor Deegan who won All-Ireland medals in 1991 and '94. He will buttress the Crokes defence.
Other prominent names on the Crokes team-sheet are John Costelloe and Mick Dillon, who captained the side in 1994, John O'Callaghan, Jonathan McGee and Ray Cosgrove (both of whom are current members of the Dublin county squad).
Na Fianna, who have not won the title since 1979, were hoping that Jason Sherlock would be available but he is involved with Shamrock Rovers against Finn Harps in Ballybofey on Saturday.
Yet they have several players of considerable prowess such as Dessie Farrell (Dublin's current captain) and Mick Galvin while Senan Connell from Oliver Plunkett's in Navan is regarded as a very important capture.
Crokes have already beaten Ballyboden-St Enda's, the winners of the '95 title, and Naomh Bearog also, while Na Fianna have accounted for St Sylvester's and the then reigning champions, Erin's Isle.
There is an unusual pairing for the Meath county final on Sunday in Navan between two teams which have never won the title. Dunboyne, on the Dublin border, will meet Oldcastle which leans its shoulder to Cavan in the north.
Dunboyne earlier disposed of Navan O Mahony's and Skryne, a feat which makes them favourites. They will have Enda McManus at centre half-back and that represents a big advantage as McManus has vast experience with the Meath county team whle they also are hoping that another stalwart, Brendan Reilly, will have recovered from a leg injury to take his place in the attack.
Oldcastle, who last appeared in the final of 1945, will have John McEnroe, Declan Mullen, Vincent Reynolds, Donal Farrelly and Niall Fitzpatrick on call and expert Meath observers feel that only a point or two will separate the teams at the end.
The management team which led Tyrone to their All-Ireland minor football triumph last month is quitting. But Mickey Harte and Fr Gerard McAleer could be set to take over the under-21 side.
Fr McAleer confirmed that his eight-year stint with the minors, during which they won three Ulster titles and reached two All-Ireland finals, is at an end. But the duo would clearly relish renewing links with the players at under-21 level.