Na Fianna the best team we've faced, says Kilmacud boss

Na Fianna haven't contested a Dublin decider since 2005 but comfortably overcame Ballyboden St Enda's at the weekend to set up a clash with holders Crokes
Na Fianna the best team we've faced, says Kilmacud boss

THAT WINNING FEELING: Kilmacud Crokes' manager Robbie Brennan celebrates after the game with Ross McGowan. Pic: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Better than Kilcoo, better than Padraig Pearses, better than Naas. That's Kilmacud Crokes manager Robbie Brennan's opinion of Dublin SFC final opponents Na Fianna who are seeking to establish a new order in the capital.

Na Fianna haven't contested a Dublin decider since 2005 but comfortably overcame Ballyboden St Enda's at the weekend to set up a clash with holders Crokes, whom they ironically faced in '05.

They'll enter the contest as underdogs against a Crokes side only beaten to the All-Ireland title earlier this year by a late goal from Down side Kilcoo.

But with established Dublin stars Eoin Murchan, Jonny Cooper and Aaron Byrne in their ranks, along with a stellar crew who have played extensively with the Dublin U-20s, it's an ultra talented team.

Five of the Na Fianna team that lined out against Ballyboden on Saturday - goalkeeper David O'Hanlon, Murchan, Cooper, Byrne and Brian O'Leary - played in this year's Championship for Dessie Farrell's Dublin.

Two more starters - Adam Rafter and David Lacey - picked up O'Byrne Cup medals with the Sky Blues last January. James Doran was also part of that January group though was unable to line out last weekend while full-back Eoin O'Dea and sub Donal Ryan lined out for Dublin against Cork in the 2019 All-Ireland U-20 final.

Crokes, meanwhile, will be without talisman forward Paul Mannion who is recovering from surgery, just as he was when they faced Kilcoo, Padraig Pearses and Naas in huge provincial and All-Ireland ties earlier this year.

"No disrespect to anybody else but this is probably the best team we've faced, minus Paul," said Brennan. "Looking at Na Fianna in their semi-final, we have our work cut out without him. Yes, we've done it before without him to an extent and we'll just have to see if we can do it again.

"I think Na Fianna are that good, I think they're right up there. I think Lar Norton and the lads have done a fantastic job with them. They might have been lacking defensively previously but I think they look really, really solid now and obviously they have serious firepower up top, so they look the real deal."

Asked if he genuinely rates Na Fianna as perhaps better than All-Ireland holders Kilcoo, Brennan nodded.

"Oh yeah, the likes of Brian O'Leary and Conor McHugh and Aaron Byrne, everyone knows the household names that Na Fianna have," he said. "When you add in what they're doing at the back, O'Dea and Murchan, Coops, it's a serious, serious setup."

Both Crokes and Na Fianna remain in the hunt for a double of Dublin senior football and hurling titles, a feat Crokes pulled off in 2021.

Mannion's unavailability for the next three months following ankle surgery is a body blow, though the form of new recruit Shane Walsh offsets that somewhat.

Footballer of the Year nominee Walsh struck eight of Crokes' 12 points during Sunday's comfortable semi-final defeat of Thomas Davis.

"I don't know which foot he actually counts as stronger," said Brennan. "He's one of those gifted guys, it's great to have him."

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub


Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub


Execution Time: 0.255 s