CROKES SEAL ‘A’ CROWN
Glenalbyn side claim Minor ‘A’ title with superb comeback
BALLYBODEN ST ENDA’S…………………….2-16
KILMACUD Crokes completed a remarkable second-half turnaround to claim the Dublin Minor ‘A’ Hurling Championship title at O’Toole Park on Sunday morning.
After their southside rivals – Ballyboden St Enda’s – developed a convincing 1-14 to 1-8 interval lead, Crokes looked set to fall short. Yet, with Fionn O Ceallaigh and Mark Grogan in sparkling form up front, Paddy Linehan’s side were a rejuvenated force on the resumption.
Following the club’s defeat to ‘Boden in a recent senior championship final replay, Crokes were hell-bent on securing a reverse result in the Crumlin venue. Eddie Gibbons was substitute goalkeeper for the Glenalbyn men in that encounter and he posted five points from corner-forward in this pulsating affair.
En route to the decider, both teams had recorded four wins in as many games. Crokes topped Group Two prior to their semi-final success over Cuala, while ‘Boden defeated St Vincent’s after emerging unscathed from the opposing group.
Despite appearing to be evenly-matched on paper, Crokes were placed under pressure by a tidal wade of ‘Boden attacks during the early moments. Wing-forward Kevin Desmond flicked to the net inside the opening 30 seconds and corner-forward Adam Kelleher quickly followed suit with a pointed free.
Crokes looked to settle through an O Ceallaigh single, only for Kelleher (two), Pearce Christie and Luke McDwyer to respond for a rampant ‘Boden. After Christie cancelled out a superb Niall Comerford effort for Crokes, the Pairc Ui Murchu outfit were 1-6 to 0-2 in front with just eight minutes gone.
Kelleher (free), Desmond and Malachy Codd kept the scoreboard ticking over for the leaders, but Crokes discovered a familiar rhythm as the half progressed. Alex Hatt, Gibbons and James Dillon raised white flags and O Ceallaigh’s stunning strike on 14 minutes produced his side’s maiden goal of the tie.
Another Gibbons set-piece reduced the Crokes deficit to two (1-9 to 1-7), though ‘Boden settled again with back-to-back points from Christie and Kelleher. The relentless pace of the proceedings was maintained by Comerford, before an understandable drop inside the closing stages of the half.
This suited ‘Boden’s cause, as unanswered points courtesy of Kelleher, Cillian Kirwan and centre-back Fergal Ryan nudged them into a six-point cushion at the break. In a similar vein to their opponents’ whirlwind first-half start, Crokes were firing on all cylinders during the third-quarter.
With half-time substitute Padraig Purcell adding much-needed energy, they sensationally wiped out the ‘Boden buffer within seven minutes. A 0-2 Gibbons salvo got them back on track, and when Jack Lambert failed to deal with Tom Stakelum’s long-delivery, Crokes had their second goal.
Supplementing Gibbons’ spectacular free from inside his own half, Grogan (two) and Purcell found the target to edge Crokes into a three-point lead. Having been in the ascendancy for the majority of the play, ‘Boden were now struggling to contain their persistent counterparts.
They conceded further scores to Dillon and O Ceallaigh, but their scoring drought finally came to an end in the form of Desmond’s 48th-minute point. Although a long-range special by Ryan kept ‘Boden’s dreams alive, Crokes were not to be denied.
Another powerful attacking blitz delivered five points in succession – including braces for Padhraic Linehan and O Ceallaigh. While Kirwan drilled a free beyond Crokes netminder Ben Hynes deep into stoppage-time, it only served as a consolation for Ballyboden in the end.
Scorers – Kilmacud Crokes: F O Ceallaigh 1-4, E Gibbons 0-5 (4f), T Stakelum 1-0, M Grogan 0-3, P Linehan (f), J Dillon, N Comerford 0-2 each, D Murray, A Hatt, P Purcell 0-1 each. Ballyboden St Endas: A Kelleher 0-6 (5f), K Desmond 1-2, C Kirwan 1-1 (1-0f), P Christie 0-3, F Ryan 0-2 (1f, 1 ’65’), L McDwyer, M Codd 0-1 each.
KILMACUD CROKES: B Hynes; C Kinsella, B Sheehy, R Smith; T Stakelum, C Keys, S Kinsella; P Linehan, J Dillon; M Grogan, N Comerford, D Murray; A Hatt, F O Ceallaigh, E Gibbons.
Subs: P Purcell for Murray (h-t), G Veale for Gibbons (53), A O’Toole for O Ceallaigh (60).
BALLYBODEN ST ENDA’S: J Lambert; C Lowe, J McGrath, S O’Donnell; E Cashman, F Ryan, P Dunleavy; J Kenny, P Christie; L McDwyer, C Kirwan, K Desmond; A Kelleher, C Corcoran, M Codd.
Subs: J Maguire for O’Donnell (53), P Gannon for Corcoran (60).
MENTORS – Kilmacud Crokes: P Linehan, R Kinsella, M Hynes, S Slattery, R Mooney. Ballyboden St Enda’s: N Desmond, E Carroll, M Kenny, D McGrath.
Referee: Thomas Gleeson (Naomh Fionnbarra).
WIDES – Kilmacud Crokes: 8 (4+4). Ballyboden St Enda’s: 10 (3+7).
CONDITIONS: Dry and sunny conditions.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Fionn O Ceallaigh (Kilmacud Crokes).