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Sunday 19 November 2017

Crokes to secure narrow win and earn final berth

Dublin SHC semi-final Kilmacud v Lucan (Parnell Pk, Tomorrow, 2.0)

Lucan Sarsfields’ John Bellew.
Lucan Sarsfields’ John Bellew.

Kilmacud Crokes will look to take another progressive step towards their first county title in three years when they meet a resurgent Lucan Sarsfields tomorrow afternoon.

Of course, Kilmacud came so close to dethroning Cuala in last year's thrilling decider, overcoming a terrible start to lead by two points late on before Cuala reaffirmed their control with five late scores.

A similarly slow start would prove hugely detrimental to their chances tomorrow and falling behind by six points in their narrow quarter-final victory against Na Fianna suggests that particular problem has not been resolved at present.

Their pedigree cannot be questioned however with much of their attacking play centred on the brilliance of Fergal Whitely, whose ability to find space and accuracy off either side has seen him score twelve points from play in Crokes' last two championship outings.

His emergence as a leader has taken a degree of pressure off the shoulders of traditional talisman Oisín O'Rorke while the likes of Seán McGrath and Caolán Conway have more than enough ability to take the game away from a Lucan team heavily dependent on their defensive abilities.

Those qualities were very much in evidence in Lucan's somewhat surprising 2-12 to 0-16 quarter-final victory over Ballyboden St Enda's, a game in which Sarsfields seized the initiative in the third quarter to create a sufficient buffer that withstood Boden's late onslaught.

The performances of John Bellew, Chris Crummey and Johnny McCaffrey were crucial that day, with both Crummey and McCaffrey adding two points apiece to augment their more primary duties and Crummey's aerial ability should curb the Kilmacud's traditional strength under a high ball.

However, the fact that their starting six only contributed 1-1 over the hour is a genuine concern for Lucan and while they mightn't be too concerned where the scores come from, that is a modest return in the kindest sense and one that will need to improve if Lucan are to return to the first county final since 2013.

Similarly, while beating Ballyboden was acknowledged as an important breakthrough for this Lucan team, the poverty of Boden's play should not be forgotten and Kilmacud represent a far tougher challenge in terms of their recent experience and depth of talent coming through.

Ronan Hayes is one such player who has impressed when introduced but Kilmacud appear a weaker team defensively given the absences of both Ronan Walsh and Jack Doughan.

There are doubts surrounding the availability of Dillon Mulligan and Ryan O'Dwyer as well, players that have offered leadership on occasions such as these.

Despite that, Crokes are given a tentative vote to prevail, in a low-scoring, tense affair.

ODdS: Kilmacud Crokes 1-2, Lucan Sarsfields 15/8, Draw 9-1.

VERICT: Kilmacud Crokes

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