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Kiltale set for fourth title in-a-row

Story by Jimmy Geoghegan

Thursday, 28th September, 2017 10:00pm

Kiltale set for fourth title in-a-row

Kiltale selectors Declan Regan (left), manager Cathal Sheridan, PJ Walsh and Damien Dixon

They played each other in the opening round of the SHC and now they met again in Saturday's Jubilee Cup final with Kiltale looking to make history anf win four-in-a-row.

Kildalkey will be seeking to regain their place at the top of the Meath hurling leaderboard, but he evidence suggests Kiltale can do the business yet again.

Considering their records in recent times it's hardly surprising that these two sides have emerged to face off against each other in the biggest day in local hurling.

Between them Kiltale and Kildalkey have won eight of the last 10 county finals. Kildalkey did the business in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Kiltale were victors in 2007 and 2012 before bagging the last three titles.

Now they stand on the verge of history and the first four-in-a-row since Kilmessan claimed six between 1943 and 1948.

When it is considered how they played in recent years; how they have sustained themselves at the top Kiltale will once again be most people's favourites going into Saturday's showdown.

That's something that will suit Kildalkey just fine although Cathal Sheridan's side is unlikely to be burdened down by the weight of expectations. After all they have been here before. They were favourites last year as well and despite not playing particularly well they still made it across the line with one point (0-17 to 1-13) to spare over Killyon.

Digging out victories even on those days when they are a little off-colour is something Kiltale can do very well - the classic sign of a good team - yet they haven't been tested all that often this year. They did have that opener against the Village side and followed that up with a win over Killyon, on both occasions scoring 1-19. Then there was the facile victories over Blackhall Gaels and Boardsmill.

Dunderry didn't even show up to play them and Cathal Sheridan's side had a lenghty wait before Kilmessan again gave them a test in the last four. Wait or not Kiltale still won with considerable comfort.

And that's one of the strengths of this team; they can adapt to whatever challenges they come across. Play hurling with them, they'll play hurling. Take a physical approach, they can muscle up too. Whatever way you want they can match it - and more.

They have in Anthony Forde and Padraig Kelly two dynamic players in the central area who forage well for possession. Forde's surging runs, in particular, and the way he and Kelly can pick out passes are major aspects of what is surely, in light of what they have already achieved, a truly great Kiltale team.

They also carry a potent attacking threat with Peter Durnin, Ross Ryan, Jack Regan and James Kelly just four members of what is a talent-filled foward division. In Shane McGann Kiltale have the best goalkeeper in the county - and one of the best in Leinster - yet he is only one cog in a sturdy defensive unit.

Already in this year's championship Kiltale have edged out the Village side (1-19 to 2-10) and surely that will give them some kind of psychological edge.

What Kildalkey team will show up on the big day is hard to gauge. At times in their wins over Ratoath in the quarter-finals and Dunboyne in the last four they have played some scintillating hurling, at other times they have looked lethargic and out-of-sorts. Manager Johnny Greville feels their best is yet to come but can they produce it on Saturday when the Kiltale hordes are bearing down on them?

Kildalkey like to play measured hurling; more often than not they thend to find a colleague with a pass, but they can mix it up as well hitting it long or deliver crossfield passes to try and unlock opponents' sweeper-enhanced defences. They can move swiftly out of denence as they proved in getting crucial goals against both Ratoath and Dunboyne.

From the team that started against Dunboyne only Mairtin Doran, current captain Padraig Geoghegan, Maurice Keogh and Sean Heavey were involved in that 2011 triumph. Added to that they have brought in a coterie of talented youngsters in recent years such as Mark Healy and James McNally, to name just two. The addition of youth has injected a new momentum into the team. 

This has already been a red-letter year for Kildalkey having won the Div 2 HC and, perhaps more significantly, fielded three teams.

Two of their teams reached divisional finals. Claiming the Jubilee Cup would be further confirmation of a club on an upward trajectory.

However, Kiltale look to have what it takes to make it a four-in-row - and make history in the process.

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