By Michael McMullan
MALACHY O’Rourke is planning to face Paul Mannion this Sunday but the Glen boss doesn’t expect to see the Kilmacud Crokes star in from the start.
Mannion, who spent the summer playing alongside Glen’s Ciaran McFaul for the Donegal Boston club, kicked 0-9 in his first outing for the Crokes in their final group game, a facile win Templeogue Synge Street.
He then limped out of their quarter-final win over Cuala with an ankle injury and hasn’t featured since, with initial reports that his next action would be for Dublin following his return to Dessie Farrell’s squad.
Mannion’s progress has been more rapid and he was listed as an unused sub in their semi-final win over Kerins O’Rahilly’s after reports of taking part in a full training session the weekend before.
Mannion and Galway attacking ace Shane Walsh played just a total of 59 minutes together for Kilmacud all season. Speculation of Mannion’s return dominates the narrative around Sunday’s showdown with Glen and another attacking ace needing stifled.
“There is the wee bit of uncertainty,” O’Rourke admits about his side’s preparation that would have a portion dedicated to assigning markers in his defence.
“I could be proven completely wrong, but I think, at this stage, that he wouldn’t start the game because of the injury and he has been out for a long time.
“I would imagine that he will come on, he was obviously very close to it the last day. He (has) done a lot of work and in a big game like that (Sunday’s final) you want your quality players on the field.”
Speaking at Glen’s press evening on Monday, O’Rourke didn’t delve into the nuts of bolts of hatching a plan for Mannion and hailed the performances of his defensive unit this season that have conceded an average of 0-8 across their eight knock-out games.
“It is just a case of, not so much the personnel (to pick him up), but knowing if he is coming on and not being shocked by it,” O’Rourke explained. “(It’s about) having plans in place if we felt we need to make a switch, to be ready to do that.
“We have a lot of confidence in the boys in the defence and they have worked really hard and can hopefully do a job again on Sunday.”
Looking at Kilmacud, O’Rourke has been impressed by their team play, their patience and comfort in possession and a how their defence have coughed up just three goals in the campaign.
“They get a lot of bodies back, they are comfortable with that system and they concede very few goals,” O’Rourke said of a unit that has conceded an average of 0-9 across their seven knock-out games.
“It’s not as if there are only two or three dangermen…they can all take a score,” he said of the Crokes’ attacking division.
“They have Shane Walsh, who is a massive inclusion for them, and Paul Mannion who is possibly able to play a part.
“They have other forwards there…Shane Cunningham is very accurate, (Dara) Mullin at full forward is good. Horan, Craig Dias…they have a lot of quality around the middle of the field.
“They are a very strong team and it is going to take a massive performance to beat them, that’s the task.”