Allen the key for Kilmacud
DUBLIN mhc 'a' semi-finals
Kilmacud Crokes produced a storming second-half performance to comfortably account for local rivals Ballyboden St Enda's by 4-18 to 1-7 in their Dublin Minor 'A' Hurling Championship semi-final at a blustery O'Toole Park last Sunday, writes Rónan Mac Lochlainn.
The winners lay the foundation for their victory when leading by 1-6 to 1-5 at the interval despite having to play into the teeth of the breeze in the opening-half.
It was far more straightforward after the break with the strength of the elements reflected in Crokes goalkeeper Tadhg Murphy scoring a goal from a puck-out in the second-half.
Such a breeze spoiled what could have been a fascinating encounter but Crokes will derive confidence from the manner in which they largely controlled matters from the opening whistle.
Eamonn Allen was hugely influential for Crokes from centre-back while Tom Fox was another to show well for the winners at wing-back.
Mark McCallion was once again to the fore in the Crokes engine room, supplying a wealth of ball for the free-scoring forward line.
Kilmacud's first-half goal arrived through the lively Stephen O'Dwyer and after the impressive Mikey Crowley netted within two minutes of the resumption, the Stillorgan outfit pulled clear through further goals by Murphy and Sean Keating.
It was a far tighter affair in the second semi-final with Na Fianna narrowly overcoming St Vincent's by 2-13 to 0-15.
Jim Fenlon made a welcome return to the Na Fianna starting line-up and he showed few signs of rustiness when producing a polished display from full-back.
The Glasnevin club also benefited from the display of wing-back Paul O'Dea with Peter Feeney's goal after ten minutes handing them the initiative despite playing against the breeze in the opening period.
St Vincent's remained in contention through scores by Frankin O'Sullivan, Oisin Lanigan, Brian Bolger, Rian McBride, Conor Burke and Cian Burke as they enjoyed a 0-12 to 1-5 interval advantage.
The fears that such a lead would prove insufficient after the break were realised as their opponents gradually reeled them in with Matthew Oliver hitting five points to complement four critical points from play by lively corner-forward Seán Ryan.
Vinnies were still holding their own through the defensive toughness of Josh Curley, Sean McCaw and Michael O'Driscoll but with Donal Burke impressing after his switch to midfield, Na Fianna landed the decisive blow through Shane Barrett's opportunistic strike.
"It was a very good test for us," conceded Na Fianna manager Declan Feeney. "It was a hard day at the office and St Vincent's made us work for everything we got," he added.