Local teams to ignite top-flight title chase

By Hayden Moore

AFTER the start of the club football season was postponed due to bad weather last week, hurling will take centre stage this weekend with Ballyboden St Enda’s, Lucan Sarsfields, Faughs and Ballinteer all involved in Division One action.

Ballyboden have gone from strength to strength under Joe Fortune, with the former Dublin Under 21 Hurling boss guiding them to league and county titles and a provincial final in 2018.

club hurling preview collage 2020

Ballyboden St Enda’s forward Niall McMorrow and Lucan Sarsfields stalwart Peter Kelly (Photos by John Kirwan and Echo photographer Paddy Barrett)

Coming off the back of that hugely successful first season under new management, Boden’s fortunes ran dry in 2019 as they were beaten in the league final by Cuala and dumped out of the county championship by St Vincent’s at just the quarter-final stage.

St Enda’s will be hoping to put newly-promoted Naomh Barrog to the sword when they travel out to Kilbarrack on Sunday for their curtain raiser to the new campaign.

While it is still uncertain whether Conal Keaney will play a part due to his involvement with the intercounty set-up in previous years, the likes of Aidan Mellett, Niall McMorrow and James Roche are to sure to be involved in some capacity after their fine performances last season.

Meanwhile Faughs will be aiming to start their first season back in the top tier better than they did on their last return to top flight hurling in 2018 when they welcome defending champions Cuala to Templeogue on Sunday morning.

Faughs have had a somewhat tumultuous relationship with Division One having battled against relegation and for promotion in recent years.

The last time they competed in the top tier was in 2018, after they had been relegated under Joe Cunningham in a play-off with Lucan Sarsfields a year prior to that.

But now under Tom O’Mahony, the most successful club in the county will be hoping to consolidate their place back among the big guns after beating St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh in a Division Two promotion play-off last season.

With Lucan Sarsfields winning the Dublin Under-21 ‘A’ Championship last year, Sean McCaffrey will be eager to blood some of that younger cohort of players in his senior set-up.

Although they will be without the talent of half-back Chris Crummey due to his commitment with Dublin, Sarsfields are no pushovers and possess the experience of former Dublin stalwarts.

They did struggle last season, but with former Blues captain Johnny McCaffrey and 2013 All-Star Peter Kelly in their ranks, they should be aiming to finish around the top of the table.

Lucan, who narrowly avoided relegation last year, will welcome to the 12th Lock this weekend St Brigid’s, who will be favourites after their strong performances towards the tail end of 2019.

In recent seasons, Ballinteer St John’s have been reliant on forward Aodhán Clabby to do the damage in front of goal and the former Dublin underage star rarely dips in form.

St John’s were easily beaten in the first two games of last season, but pulled their Division One status out of the fire with victories over Craobh Chiarain, St Vincent’s, Lucan and relegated sides Crumlin and Whitehall Colmcille.

They will be hoping to start their new season on the right note when they travel to Silver Park to face Kilmacud on Sunday.

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