CROKES GO SECOND IN AHL DIVISION ONE WITH WIN OVER NA FIANNA
ADULT HURLING LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
KILMACUD CROKES 2-17
NA FIANNA 1-15
By Daire Walsh
Kilmacud Crokes climbed up to second in the Adult Hurling League Division One table with an impressive five-point victory over Na Fianna at Pairc De Burca on Friday night.
Following Cuala’s win at the expense of Whitehall Colmcille two days earlier, Anthony Daly’s men briefly dropped down to third place in the top-flight standings. They have played a game than their southside rivals, but for the time being they are in the runners-up spot – four points adrift of defending champions Ballyboden St Enda’s.
While the free-taking of Eddie Gibbons helped the hosts to lead at the break, it was second-half goals from corner-forward Fionn O Ceallaigh and Oisin O’Rorke that ultimately propelled them towards a fifth successive league triumph.
An Aaron Jesson major gave Na Fianna renewed hope inside the final-quarter and a brilliant midfield display by Martin Quilty ensured Crokes were made to work for the points on offer. This was the Glasnevin men’s fourth reversal of the campaign, but they remain in fourth spot with just two games left to play in the regular season.
On a bright evening in the Glenalbyn venue, Crokes drew first blood courtesy of a Gibbons free. The former Colaiste Eoin student has featured between the sticks for his side in the recent past, though on this occasion he partnered Lorcan McMullen at centre-field.
AJ Murphy was on hand to cancel out his deadlock-breaker, before Oisin O’Rorke and Caolan Conway added unanswered points to edge Crokes into a two-point cushion. Selected at full-forward, Na Fianna’s John Sharpson often dropped deep – leaving AJ Murphy and Ciaran Casserly on the inside line.
It was another attacker – David Murtagh – who picked the pocket of Crokes’ Conor Hayes in the seventh-minute. The space opened in front of him, but his eventual shot drifted past the left-hand post.
Quilty subsequently grabbed his first point of the contest and his engine room partner Kieran Murphy cancelled out another Gibbons free to keep Na Fianna in touch. There was little to separate the sides for the majority of the opening period and while Gibbons was once again on target, AJ Murphy and Sharpson singles restored parity on the first-quarter mark.
After Gibbons coolly converted a ’65’, Jonathan Treacy’s quick puck-out released Quilty for a stunning long-distance effort. Half-back Kevin Burke also contributed in the closing moments as the visitors persisted with their challenge.
However, Gibbons’ continued excellence off placed balls ensured Crokes were 0-10 to 0-7 in front at the break. Na Fianna were still very much in the reckoning and the introduction of Paul O’Dea looked set to give them an additional spark in attack.
Although he split the posts on the right-flank three minutes after the restart, this was preceded by the opening goal of the tie. O Ceallaigh was released on goal by Denis Murray and coolly slotted beyond the reach of Treacy.
This was a significant blow to Na Fianna’s chances and their woes were compounded when Robert Fenlon was immediately withdrawn through injury. A Fergal Whitely point bolstered the Crokes tally and after the ball broke kindly into O’Rorke’s path on 35 minutes, he finished to an empty net.
Their northside counterparts were now left with a mountain to climb, albeit they were able to call upon the dependable Sean Currie off the bench. Supplementing O’Dea and Ciaran Casserly points – either side of a Whitely effort at the opposite end – Currie split the uprights off a close-range free.
This still left seven points between the teams 12 minutes from time, but Jesson’s low strike suddenly gave Na Fianna a new lease of life. Gibbons and Quilty traded scores moving towards the home stretch, with Crokes maintaining their stranglehold on the play.
O Ceallaigh’s kicked point in response to Quilty’s latest intervention seemed to give them a comfortable buffer, until a resilient Na Fianna rallied once again. In the space of 60 seconds, Quilty bagged a brace of points – reducing the gap to two in the process.
Gibbons had struggled to replicate the accuracy he had showcased prior to the interval and this led to O’Rorke assuming free-taking duty in the closing minutes. He raised two white flags in quick succession to provide Crokes with some breathing space and Whitely’s third of game put the seal on their hard-earned triumph.
The victors will return to competitive fare next Wednesday – a crunch meeting with Ballyboden in Ballycullen. Na Fianna will seek to bounce back when they welcome Whitehall to St Mobhi Road on July 21.
Scorers – Kilmacud Crokes: Eddie Gibbons 0-9 (8f, 1 ’65’), Oisin O’Rorke 1-3 (0-2f), Fionn O Ceallaigh 1-1, Fergal Whitely 0-3, Caolan Conway 0-1. Na Fianna: Martin Quilty 0-5, Paul O’Dea 0-3, Aaron Jesson 1-0, AJ Murphy 0-2, Sean Currie (f), Kevin Burke, Kieran Murphy, John Sharpson, Ciaran Casserly 0-1 each.
KILMACUD CROKES: Ben Hynes; Cillian O’Shea, Daragh Butler, Rory Smith; Conor Hayes, Cian Mac Gabhann, Sean Kinsella; Lorcan McMullan, Eddie Gibbons; Denis Murray, Caolan Conway, Fergal Whitely; Oisin O’Rorke, Shane Veale, Fionn O Ceallaigh. Sub: Aaron O’Toole for Murray (48).
NA FIANNA: Jonathan Treacy; Stephen Murphy, Ciaran Fanning, Sean Burke; Kevin Burke, Hugh Fenlon, Robert Fenlon; Kieran Murphy, Martin Quilty; Sean Murphy, Aaron Jesson, David Murtagh; AJ Murphy, John Sharpson, Ciaran Casserly. Subs: Paul O’Dea for Stephen Murphy (half-time), Craig Berrigan for R Fenlon (33), Sean Currie for Sharpson (38).
Referee: Mark Ryan (St Patrick’s, Palmerstown).