DUBLIN U16FL DIVISION 1
Southsiders recover from slow start to keep up chase for honours in dramatic finish to Division One clash
KILMACUD CROKES 1-10
ST VINCENT’S 1-9
KILMACUD CROKES produced a late flourish against St Vincent’s at Silver Park last Thursday evening to keep their U16 Football League Division One title hopes alive.
Trailing the pace-setters by two points in advance of the contest, the southsiders could ill afford another slip-up. They were staring defeat in the face when Vincent’s netminder Andrew Smyth turned away Dara Dempsey’s 51st-minute penalty, but with Hugh Moran and Ben Kelly stepping up to the plate, they subsequently sealed the deal.
Heading into the final round of the regular campaign on June 25, Crokes are tied with Vincent’s and Skerries Harps on 14 points apiece. While they remain in third place due to their inferior scoring average, there has been enough twists and turns in recent weeks to suggest Peter Ward’s side can still come out on top.
Before losing out to Skerries at UCD on April 5, Crokes had recorded five straight victories in the top-tier. They returned to winning ways against Clontarf just under four weeks later, on the same night that Vincent’s put Skerries to the sword in Pairc Naomh Uinsionn.
The undefeated Marino men created some daylight at the summit as a result and appeared to have momentum on their side for the trip to Leopardstown. Having survived an initial spell of attacking pressure from the hosts, they eventually broke the deadlock through Harry Kirwan’s eighth-minute point.
This was immediately followed by Aaron Dunne’s superb effort off his left-foot as Vins looked to establish a firm foothold on the play. Despite securing a lot of primary possession during the first-quarter, Crokes struggled to make it count on the scoreboard.
Vins’ wing-forward Paddy Gilroy often dropped back as a spare man and it was proving to be an effectively ploy early on. The visitors stretched further in front on 13 minutes – full-forward Bill Costello lashing home after Robert Kenny couldn’t hold onto a Cathal Keane free.
Vins remained in control courtesy of a Keane score inside the second-quarter, but it was at this point that the Crokes challenge finally kicked into life. An excellent Kelly point opened their account on the stroke of 20 minutes and despite Smyth brilliantly turning away a Jordan Mynes strike, Oisin Kirwan was on hand to finish off the rebound.
Dylan Kelly found the target off a blistering run to keep Vins on track, only for Dempsey to cancel it out at the opposite end. Costello and Gilroy were denied in a frantic conclusion to the opening period, but Vincent’s nevertheless brought a slender 1-4 to 1-2 cushion into the break.
Crokes had offered enough of an attacking threat to suggest they could address their deficit and within three minutes of the resumption, they were back on level terms. Dempsey released midfielder Barra O’Donoghue for a point and the impressive Kelly drifted off the left-wing to split the posts in outstanding style.
Kirwan’s second of the contest edged Vins back in front, before Crokes once again responded with an unanswered brace. Following a Smyth save off Kirwan’s close-range drive, Dempsey (free) and Patrick van Zuydam pointed to move Crokes ahead for the first time.
However, just when they seemed primed to push on, Vincent’s re-asserted their authority. During a fruitful attacking spell – where they got on top of the Crokes kick-out – inside forwards Costello (two) and Keane amassed three points without reply.
As the final whistle approached, it became understandably tense at the Tudor Lawns venue. There was so much at stake and a Crokes spot-kick had the potential to alter the direction of the game.
In spite of Smyth coming to the rescue of Vins, Crokes rallied through Moran’s 0-2 salvo. Kelly’s third of the tie regained the lead and when Moran converted another free in the 58th-minute, it gave them some breathing space.
Although Gilroy’s stoppage-time point kept Vincent’s in the frame, Kilmacud ultimately held out for a crucial triumph.
Scorers – Kilmacud Crokes: H Moran (3f), B Kelly 0-3 each, O Kirwan 1-0, D Dempsey 0-2 (1f), B O’Donoghue, P van Zuydam 0-1 each. St Vincent’s: B Costello 1-2 (0-1f), H Kirwan, C Keane 0-2 each, D Kelly, A Dunne, P Gilroy 0-1 each.
KILMACUD CROKES: R Kenny; A Scott, T Clancy, F O’Shaughnessy; D Nolan, L O’Loughlin, D Geraghty; B O’Donoghue, J O’Carroll; J Mynes, B Kelly, P van Zuydam; O Kirwan, D Dempsey, H Moran.
Subs: J McBreen for O’Carroll (11), S McConnell for van Zuydam (52).
ST VINCENT’S: A Smyth; J Henry, A Reynolds-Hand, B Moorehouse-Carroll; D Keating, S Brady, S Ryan; D Kelly, J Kelly; H Kirwan, A Dunne, O Mulcahy; T Redmond, B Costello, C Keane.
Subs: C Walshe for Redmond (37).
MENTORS – Kilmacud Crokes: Peter Ward, Paddy O’Donohue. St Vincent’s: Tony Dunne, Liam Mac Cuirc, Gavin Burke, Des Keating.
Referee: Seamus Farrelly (Ballinteer St John’s).
WIDES – Kilmacud Crokes: 5 (3+2). St Vincent’s: 5 (3+2).
CONDITIONS: Dry and bright throughout with a slight breeze.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Ben Kelly (Kilmacud Crokes).