KILMACUD CROKES 0-11
NA FIANNA 0-10
By Daire Walsh
Kilmacud Crokes held firm against Na Fianna at Parnell Park on Sunday to retain their Go Ahead Dublin Senior One Football Championship title in dramatic fashion.
For the second year running, Robbie Brennan’s charges secured county honours with just a single point to spare. Five points adrift early in the second half of their 2021 showdown with St Jude’s, Crokes rallied with the help of a goal from substitute Cian O’Connor to ultimately come out on the right side of a 1-7 to 1-6 final scoreline.
The Stillorgan men were never that far behind on this occasion, but were nevertheless staring into a two-point deficit on 42 minutes. Once again, however, the title holders displayed their mettle with Galway attacker Shane Walsh very much to the fore.
He kicked four points from play over the course of the contest, and with Craig Dias and Dara Mullin also contributing 0-2 apiece, Crokes did enough to claim their 10th SFC title.
This keeps their hopes of a second consecutive senior championship double alive for another week at least with their two in-a-row chasing hurlers set to take on Na Fianna themselves next Sunday. Of course, the Glasnevin outfit will be hoping to have something to say about that, particularly having gone so close to toppling Crokes in last year’s SHC decider.
Dublin senior football panellist Conor McHugh is set to feature in that forthcoming small ball showpiece and was part of a strong Na Fianna effort that came up just short on Sunday.
Playing in their first final since 2005 - when Kilmacud last completed back-to-back SFC successes - Na Fianna hit the ground running with points from Paddy Quinn and Aaron Byrne inside the opening two minutes of the action. Crokes had taken a while to settle into their semi-final victory over Thomas Davis, before eventually taking control of the proceedings.
Na Fianna proved themselves to be a tough nut to crack, but last season’s All-Ireland finalists found their feet nonetheless. Mullin (from a mark), former Dublin stalwart Rory O’Carroll and Walsh all found the range to ensure Crokes were in the ascendancy by the 10th minute.
It didn’t take Na Fianna long to restore parity as David Lacey split the posts off a free at a left-hand angle. Crokes wing-back Andrew McGowan and McHugh traded points at the tail end of an eventful opening quarter, but the defending champions did create some daylight through Dias and Mullin points.
Still, it was Na Fianna who were the happier of the two sides heading in at the break. Matching the efforts of fellow Galwegian Walsh, Michael Day raised a white flag in advance of Lacey (free) and Byrne doing the same.
This guided Lar Norton’s charges towards a slender 0-7 to 0-6 interval buffer and with Walsh forced off with an injury in the latter stages of the opening period, the pressure was suddenly coming on Crokes. However, Walsh did return for the second half sporting a bandage on his head.
This was welcomed by the Stillorgan faithful, especially when you consider they were without the services of six-time All-Ireland winner Paul Mannion for the second game on the bounce.
Although Eoin Murchan and his inter-county compatriot McHugh were both on target for Na Fianna after the resumption, midfielder Ben Shovlin was on hand to cancel out these efforts. While the challengers had opportunities to pull further in front, they were finding it increasingly difficult to register scores facing into a stiff breeze.
Cill Mochuda Na Crócaigh 0-11
Na Fianna 0-10
Tá Laoch na hImeartha bronnta ar fhear na Gaillimhe Shane Walsh inniu.
"Everyone was putting their bodies on the line and I just wanted to be out there with the boys doing that."#GAABEO | @KCrokesGAAClub pic.twitter.com/kUlBgrKv2F
— Spórt TG4 (@SportTG4) October 16, 2022
The loss of Paddy Quinn to a black card on 46 minutes also left them hamstrung at a pivotal juncture in the play and Crokes made full use of their temporary numerical supremacy. Supplementing a brace of points from the increasingly-influential Walsh, Dias bagged his second score of the day to enable his side to regain the initiative.
Walsh also split the uprights from a distance of 40 metres to give Crokes additional breathing space, albeit the game remained on a knife edge. Over seven minutes of stoppage-time was played and Brian O’Leary pointed from close-range during this period to reduce the deficit to the bare minimum.
Yet Kilmacud held out under severe pressure and will now switch their attention to a Leinster quarter-final duel with Kildare champions Naas on November 6.
Scorers - Kilmacud Crokes:Shane Walsh 0-4, Dara Mullin (1M), Craig Dias 0-2 each, Rory O’Carroll, Andrew McGowan, Ben Shovlin 0-1 each.Na Fianna:David Lacey (2 frees), Conor McHugh (2 frees), Aaron Byrne 0-2 each, Eoin Murchan, Michael Day, Paddy Quinn, Brian O’Leary 0-1 each.
KILMACUD CROKES:Conor Ferris; Micheal Mullin, Cillian O’Shea, Dan O’Brien; Rory O’Carroll, Aidan Jones, Andrew McGowan; Ben Shovlin, Craig Dias; Tom Fox, Shane Walsh, Shane Horan; Hugh Kenny, Dara Mullin, Shane Cunningham.Subs:Conor Casey for Walsh (30-HT, blood), Cian O’Connor for Fox (39), Conor Casey for Horan, Callum Pearson for Cunningham (Both 47), Anthony Quinn for Kenny (65).
NA FIANNA:David O’Hanlon; Gus Farrell, Eoin O’Dea, Ali Fitzgerald; Jonny Cooper, Eoin Murchan, Adam Rafter; Michael Day, Paddy Quinn; David Quinn, Aaron Byrne, David Lacey; Glen O’Reilly, Conor McHugh, Brian O’Leary.Subs:Sean Caffrey for O’Reilly (41), James Doran for D Quinn (52), Dean Ryan for Rafter, Donal Ryan for P Quinn (both 57).
REFEREE:Barry Tiernan (O’Dwyers).