ADULT HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
WHITEHALL COLMCILLE 1-17
KILMACUD CROKES 0-20
By Daire Walsh
Sean McGrath converted a ’65’ deep into second half stoppage-time at Collins Avenue on Wednesday night to earn Kilmacud Crokes a share of the spoils with Whitehall Colmcille in Division One of the Adult Hurling League.
When Sean Gray registered his fourth point of the contest on 62 minutes, it looked set to squeeze Whitehall over the line for their second win of the campaign. There was enough time for a final sting in the tale, however, and McGrath maintained his composure to ensure the sides were inseparable in the end.
In league action for the first time since March 24, the two sides were aiming to bounce back from their respective reversals in round three. Whitehall had most recently lost out to St Jude’s in Abbotstown - 0-17 to 1-8 - whereas Kilmacud Crokes suffered a 1-18 to 2-11 defeat to St Brigid’s at Silver Park on the same evening.
Both teams had also previously come up short against Craobh Chiarain and were therefore hoping to avoid another top-flight slip-up. Backed by a gentle breeze on their home turf, Whitehall moved three points clear during the early exchanges.
After Crokes centre-back Cian Mac Gabhann traded points with Niall O’Connor, the northsiders edged ahead courtesy of a stunning Conor Sheedy major. The inside forward gathered a long delivery and drilled a powerful shot beyond the reach of netminder Matt Collins.
Either side of McGrath’s opening free of the tie, Paddy Spellacy and Enda O’Donnell found the target for an increasingly confident Whitehall. They then received a set-back on the stroke of 10 minutes as corner-back Dillon Constantine was withdrawn through injury.
Crokes immediately rallied with back-to-back points by McGrath and Aaron O’Toole - only for Whitehall to do likewise with impressive Sheedy and Spellacy efforts. Anthony Daly’s visitors persevered with their challenge as the play progressed and midfielder Lorcan McMullan complimented a Mac Gabhann ’65’ to keep them in touch.
It was proving to be a frantic opening period of hurling, with Cathal Ryan raising white flags for Whitehall either side of another McGrath point. The former Dublin senior panellist swapped frees with his opposite number Sean Gray, before working in unison with Alex Considine to cut the gap to a bare minimum.
Nevertheless, Niall O’Donnell found the range in spectacular style to offer Whitehall a 1-9 to 0-10 interval cushion. Crokes were well in the reckoning when the proceedings resumed and with experienced figures like Niall Corcoran, Ryan O’Dwyer and McGrath in their side, they were expected to fight tooth and nail for the two points.
O’Toole and McGrath were on hand to cancel out a brace of well-worked Whitehall points - including another for Gray - before McGrath once again displayed his unerring accuracy. Their opponents remained calm as the tension was ramped up, wing-forwards Spellacy and Gray (free) enhancing their personal tallies.
Although Sheedy split the posts in clinical fashion, four quick-fire Crokes points (three for McGrath and another for Mac Gabhann) restored parity with 12 minutes remaining on the clock. With the exception of an early miss, McGrath’s shot selection was imperious for the county finalists.
His 11th of the game helped Crokes to finally reclaim the lead and provided them with significant momentum with the finishing line in sight. Yet Whitehall still had plenty left in reserve and regained control through Enda O’Donnell and Gray points.
After McGrath’s latest free was matched by the equally dependable Gray, it left Crokes chasing the game in the closing moments. They were afforded one last chance on goal and, four minutes into time added on, McGrath kept his cool to bring his final haul to 0-13.
Crokes will now seek to build on this stalemate when they play host to St Vincent’s on Saturday evening. Whitehall have home advantage once again this weekend - St Brigid’s being the latest side to make the journey out to Dublin 9.
Scorers - Whitehall Colmcille: Conor Sheedy 1-3, Sean Gray 0-4 (4f), Paddy Spellacy 0-3, Enda O’Donnell, Cathal Ryan 0-2 each, Cian McCarthy, Niall O’Donnell, Niall O’Connor 0-1 each. Kilmacud Crokes: Sean McGrath 0-13 (0-9f, 0-1 ’65’), Cian Mac Gabhann 0-3 (2f, 1 ’65), Aaron O’Toole 0-2, Lorcan McMullan, Alex Considine 0-1 each.
WHITEHALL COLMCILLE: Ronan Murray; Sean Kellett, Cian Murphy, Dillon Constantine; Cian McCarthy, Sean Scallan, Niall O’Donnell; Lee Gannon, Conor Cummins; Sean Gray, Enda O’Donnell, Paddy Spellacy; Conor Sheedy, Niall O’Connor, Cathal Ryan. Subs: Paddy Giles for Constantine (10), Mikey Noonan for Ryan (46), Sean Power for Scallan (48).
KILMACUD CROKES: Matt Collins; Brian Sheehy, Daragh Butler, Cillian O’Shea; Conor Mooney, Cian Mac Gabhann, Niall Corcoran; Lorcan McMullan, Padhraic Linehan; Seamie Leahy, Ryan O’Dwyer, Sean McGrath; Alex Considine, Damien Kelly, Aaron O’Toole. Sub: Joe O’Dwyer for Mooney (45).
Referee: Damien Burnett (Craobh Chiarain).