ADULT HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
KILMACUD CROKES 1-16 ST JUDE’S 1-9
By Daire Walsh
Kilmacud Crokes produced a powerful finish at Silver Park on Sunday morning to get their Adult Hurling League Division One campaign up and running.
Trailing southside rivals St Jude’s by a single point on 55 minutes, Anthony Daly’s hosts recorded 1-5 without reply to ultimately claim the spoils. Sean McGrath’s final haul of nine points proved crucial towards Crokes’ eventual success, while Alex Considine’s 1-1 salvo in the closing stages also helped to keep Jude’s at bay.
Aiming to bounce back from their own opening round reversal to St Brigid’s, the visitors had the breeze at their disposal during the first-half. Diarmuid McLoughlin was positioned at the edge of the square, flanked on either side by Kevin Lahiff and Mark Hannon.
McLoughlin previously featured for Mayo at inter-county level and after superbly gathering John Carthy's long-delivery, he unleashed an unstoppable strike beyond the reach of Matt Collins. This wasan ideal start for the Templeogue men and they subsequently increased their advantage through Donie Smith’s pointed free.
It took Crokes a while to find their feet but with former county stalwarts Niall Corcoran and Ryan O’Dwyer exerting a growing influence, they started to create a platform further out the field. Following his settling placed-ball effort on six minutes, the reliable McGrath added a second point for the Stillorgan outfit.
McLoughlin’s major not withstanding, the early exchanges of this top-flight clash proved to be largely scrappy. Smith and McGrath traded frees either side of the first-quarter mark, but Jude’s created some daylight courtesy of points by centre-field pair Carthy and Smith (free).
Following an agonising Barry O’Rorke miss at a tight angle, McGrath kept Crokes in touch with two unanswered points. Nevertheless, the ever-dependable Smith ensured Jude’s brought a 1-6 to 0-5 cushion into the break.
The initial bright weather in the Leopardstown venue suddenly gave way for extremely wintry conditions during the interval. This carried on into the early moments of the second period, before giving way to the sun once more.
As expected, Crokes gained a firm foothold on the play when the action resumed. Though it took them six minutes to bolster their tally - inside forward Fionn O Ceallaigh adding a fine point on the turn - they then cancelled out the Jude’s lead in swift fashion.
A player who displayed outstanding potential at secondary school level with Colaiste Eoin, O Ceallaigh claimed his second score in succession on the left-hand side. After Naomhan O’Riordan split the uprights in spectacular style, McGrath grabbed his first from play on 43 minutes.
Jude’s were not out of contention just yet, though, and they briefly reined in the Crokes challenge with a clinical purple patch. McLoughlin, Smith (his sixth free) and half-time substitute Leo Sexton all finding the range for the Tymon North side.
However, when the chips were down, it was McGrath who stepped up to the plate. Another brace by the centre-forward got Crokes back on track and he also converted a free deep inside his own ’65’ to leave the teams deadlocked.
The pivotal moment of the tie then arrived with just three minutes of normal time remaining. Although Michael Gibbons’ rasping shot was brilliantly turned away by Ross O Raghallaigh, Considine was on hand to flick home the rebound.
Having worked tirelessly throughout the course of the contest, Considine was finally rewarded for his endeavours. McGrath continued to impress for a now rampant Crokes and a third O Ceallaigh point gave them an unassailable lead moving into stoppage-time.
Considine rounded off another intricate attack to complete a morale-boosting triumph for Kilmacud Crokes. They will next entertain St Brigid’s on March 24, before the league takes an extended break due to the forthcoming Senior ‘A’ club championship.
Meanwhile, St Jude’s will aim to bounce back at home to Whitehall Colmcille on the same day.
Scorers - Kilmacud Crokes: Seán McGrath 0-11 (9f), Alex Considine 1-1, Fionn O Ceallaigh 0-3, Naomhan O’Riordan 0-1. St Jude’s: Donie Smith 0-6 (6f), Diarmuid McLoughlin 1-1, John Carthy, Leo Sexton 0-1 each.
KILMACUD CROKES: Matt Collins; Darragh Butler, Robert O’Loughlin, Niall Corcoran; Conor Hayes, Ryan O’Dwyer, Seamus Leahy; Cian Mac Gabhann, Dara Jones; Shane Veale, Seán McGrath, Naomhan O’Riordan; Barry O’Rorke, Alex Considine, Fionn O Ceallaigh. Subs: Michael Roche for Veale (42), Cillian O’Shea for O’Rorke, Michael Gibbons for Jones (both 53).
ST JUDE’S: Ross O Raghallaigh; Ciaran Mangan, Cillian Smyth, Kevin Treacy; Manus Malone, Tom Devlin, Ciaran Hogan; John Carthy, Donie Smith; Mark Maguire, Alex Connolly, Leigh Kelly; Kevin Lahiff, Diarmuid McLoughlin, Mark Hannon. Subs: Leo Sexton for Hannon (half-time), Bobby Moran for Hogan (50), Alan O’Byrne for Lahiff, Michael Breslin for Kelly (both 53).
Referee: Donal Ryan (St Patrick’s, Palmerstown).