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Joe Kernan: McGourty’s star quality just made for a Croke Park showpiece

What have C J McGourty, Henry Shefflin, Odhran O’Dwyer and Joe Canning got in common?

That’s right — box-office appeal, that special quality which helps to put bums on seats. And when they line out with their respective sides in the All Ireland club football and hurling finals at Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day I for one will be fervently hoping that there are over 30,000 fans in the stadium to marvel at their combined talents.

McGourty will bring his exquisite finishing touches to the table again for St Gall’s against Kilmurry/Ibrickane in the football decider while the Clare and Munster champions will look to O’Dwyer to replicate the scoring skills he has unleashed on his team’s buoyant journey to this stage of the competition.

Last year McGourty was conspicuous by his absence when Antrim won promotion in the National League and reached the Ulster final but now Saffrons manager Liam Bradley is patiently awaiting the player’s return to the Antrim panel – although he wants him back with an All Ireland club winner’s medal in his pocket!

The 20-year-old student teacher is expected to wield a big influence in the St Gall’s attack just as O’Dwyer will shoulder a huge burden of responsibility for a Kilmurry/Ibrickane side that made light work of overcoming Portlaoise in the All Ireland semi-final.

Their preparations both on and off the field for the final are intense and they organised a successful fund-raising function on Tuesday night.

There is a hunger and honesty about the Clare side that are refreshing and as their personable manager Michael McDermott has already stated on more than one occasion, they certainly won’t be travelling to Croke Park merely to make up the numbers.

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