NET GAINS SEE CROKES KEEP ISLES AT BAY
McIntyre’s sparkling hat-trick helps the Southsiders maintain their perfect record in IHC group combat
KILMACUD CROKES 4-18
ERIN’S ISLE 3-14
CIARAN MCINTYRE recorded a magnificent haul of 3-2 to give Kilmacud Crokes a convincing triumph over Erin’s Isle in Group 2 of the Dublin Intermediate Hurling Championship at Finglas last Wednesday.
As a result, the southsiders remain unbeaten in this year’s competition – having already overcome the challenges posed by Naomh Mearnog and St Sylvester’s. Isles enjoyed a whirlwind start to the group themselves, recording three consecutive victories in advance of last week’s meeting on Farnham Drive.
Yet, despite the best efforts of Fran Carroll (who also finished with a hat-trick of goals) and Graham Williams, they came up short on this occasion. Since they captured the Junior ‘A’ county title back in 2017, Isles have made steady progress up the club hurling ladder.
They currently ply their trade in AHL2 and with the nucleus of the same squad still involved two years on, the future appears bright for Brian McCabe’s men. Although the elements were against them during the first half, Conor Carney pointed inside the opening minute to get them up and running.
Nevertheless, with one-time Offaly footballer Brian Hanamy providing a direct target on the edge of the square, Crokes soon found their feet. After the imposing attacker restored parity, Andy Cullinane edged the visitors in front with an impressive point.
They were beginning to create space in behind the Isles full-back line and McIntyre fired past Derek McCabe for a fourth-minute goal. Additional scores followed through McIntyre and Cullinane (free), before a Carney ’65’ offered Isles a certain degree of respite.
Crokes carried their momentum forward into the second-quarter, however, Eamon Allen, Darren Quirke and Cullinane finding the target in quick succession. A second major inevitably arrived via Hanamy in the 19th minute, though Isles immediately fired back with a three-pointer of their own.
A quick free from midfielder Paul Versagi released Carroll on goal and he expertly struck beyond the reach of opposition netminder Joe Codd. This was the first sign of the danger Carroll could create and Williams added a brace of points to bolster the Isles’ tally.
In spite of this, Crokes largely remained in control of their own destiny. Paul Buckley, Cullinane (two), James O’Keefe and Quirke split the posts to propel them into a 2-12 to 1-4 interval buffer.
In their previous home encounter on April 6, Isles had seven points to spare (2-16 to 1-12) over St Sylvester’s. They struggled to replicate the form produced in that showing, but a powerful blitz on the resumption got them back within touching distance.
Darren Kelly’s superb point on the left-flank galvanised the hosts and half-time substitute Darren Hanlon made an instant impact off their next foray into enemy territory. Carroll continued to pose a threat and when another goal-scoring opportunity presented itself, he took it in typically assured fashion.
Whilst their stranglehold on the game wasn’t as firm as it had been, there was never any sense of panic within the Crokes ranks. Centre-back Ronan Walsh was in outstanding form throughout and proved to be a steady presence during a potentially sticky spell for his side.
Having significantly weathered this storm from Isles, Buckley, McIntyre and Jude Sweeney pointed to bring their cushion back up to nine. Quirke and Fergal Armstrong also found the range either side of the third-quarter mark, but Isles reduced the gap to six with just eight minutes remaining.
Thanks in no small part to a 0-3 salvo courtesy of Conor Berrigan (another interval replacement), Isles were presented with a fighting chance. Ultimately, McIntyre put paid to any prospect of a comeback by bagging goals in the 55th and 62nd minutes.
Carroll also shook the net in the final seconds, but it was Kilmacud who preserved their 100 per cent record at the end of a fast-paced affair.
Scorers – Kilmacud Crokes: C McIntyre 3-2, A Cullinane 0-5 (2f, 1 ’65’), B Hanamy 1-1, D Quirke 0-3, F Armstrong (1f), P Buckley 0-2 each, E Allen, J O’Keefe, J Sweeney 0-1 each. Erin’s Isle: F Carroll 3-0, C Berrigan (3f), G Williams 0-4 each, C Carney 0-3 (2 ’65’), D Hanlon 0-2, D Kelly 0-1.
KILMACUD CROKES: J Codd; M O’Dwyer, C Keyes, J Huban; C O’Dwyer, R Walsh, E Allen; A Cullinane, P Buckley; J O’Keefe, J Sweeney, D Quirke; C McIntyre, B Hanamy, F Armstrong.
Subs: G Veale for Sweeney (55), K Fullam for Allen (57), J Slattery for Buckley, J O’Dwyer for Armstrong (both 60).
ERIN’S ISLE: D McCabe; J Hyland, E Connaghan, E King; I Fitzpatrick, D Murray, T Fox; P Versagi, G Farrell; G Williams, M Donohoe, D Kelly; C Carney, S Darcy, F Carroll.
Subs: C Berrigan for Donohoe, D Hanlon for Darcy (both h-t), P Murray for Versagi (46).
MENTORS – Kilmacud Crokes: Gerry McGrath, Ciaran Sheeran, Billy Noctor. Erin’s Isle: Brian McCabe, Johnny Carey, Derek Keogh, Mel Farrell, John Gaffney.
Referee: Terry Carton (Naomh Fionnbarra).
WIDES – Kilmacud Crokes: 14 (4+10). Erin’s Isle: 6 (3+3).
CONDITIONS: Mostly dry with occasional spots of rain.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Ciaran McIntyre (Kilmacud Crokes).