'cud to o good
Kilmacud Crokes 2-15 Cuala 2-6
A dominant first-half performance ensured Kilmacud Crokes earned a deserved nine-point victory over Cuala in their Dublin Minor Football League Division 1 encounter at a rain-swept Silver Park last Sunday morning.
Callum Pearson's injury-time goal may have added some gloss to the final scoreline but there was little doubting the control that Kilmacud exerted for large parts of the lively match.
Their dominance stemmed from their greater options in attack with Tom Fox delivering an impressive first-half display that included four excellent points from play while Callum Pearson and Dan O'Brien prompted intelligently throughout.
Their movement ensured a difficult morning for the away defence but Cuala improved immeasurably in the second-half and were perhaps unfortunate to have lost by such a sizeable margin.
Certainly, Jack Flynn could be justifiably pleased with his relentless efforts in the Cuala midfield and the shrewdness of Niall O'Callaghan in attack offered the Dalkey outfit some grounds for optimism, especially after the break. However, that their efforts proved in vain was down to their struggles in the opening half, despite them receiving an early boost when Tiernan Lane popped over a fine score in the 2nd minute.
It proved a false dawn for Cuala as Kilmacud's precise approach play led to regular chances in the early stages with Pearson restoring parity in the 3rd minute after a well-worked team score.
O'Brien added a point soon after and Kilmacud's lead was doubled in the 6th minute when Andy Fox made light of an acute angle to land an excellent point from the right-flank.
Tom Fox added to Cuala's woes following a sharp turn two minutes later and the same player kicked another telling score at the end of the first quarter as Crokes gained tangible reward for their constant forays into enemy territory.
Despite falling behind even further after Conor Kelly was allowed to run unopposed down the middle for a facile score, Cuala gradually began to exert some pressure of their own with Dara Collopy and Flynn hugely prominent and they recorded their first score in sixteen minutes when Dara Spillane clipped over a close-range free.
The Dublin minor panellist added a point from play almost immediately and a mini purple patch was accentuated as O'Callaghan's placed ball trimmed Cuala's deficit to just two points after 20 minutes. Crucially, the hosts reaffirmed their influence on affairs for the closing ten minutes of the half with Tom Fox kicking two sublime points, one off either foot while wing-back Harry Kelly was rewarded for an enterprising display with a glorious point, set up by the ubiquitous Fox.
Trailing by 0-10 to 0-4 at the interval, O'Callaghan's 31st minute free handed Cuala some brief momentum but Tom Fox and Ben Shovlin replied for Kilmacud as they looked to build on their solid first-half platform.
Spillane's superbly taken goal in the 37th minute highlighted the threat that remained from Cuala but any momentum that score may have provided was punctured a minute later as Elliott Higgins availed of a fortuitous rebound to crash home and restore his side's seven point buffer.
Tom Fox and O'Brien tagged on points in the ensuing five minutes but fresh life was breathed into Cuala thanks to a stunning goal at the end of the third quarter from Oisín Murphy.
It failed to prompt a grandstand conclusion however as Kilmacud highlighted their strength in depth with a number of telling substitutions and it was one of those, Paddy Flaherty, that inched Crokes further clear with a classy point five minutes from time.
There was no lack of effort from Cuala in the dying minutes, despite their precarious position, with Pearson's well-taken goal at the death ensuring their second defeat on the trot while in contrast, Crokes made it two wins on the bounce, showing positive signs of a competitive season ahead for Pat Duggan's charges.
Scorers - KILMACUD CROKES: T Fox 0-6 (0-5f), E Higgins, C Pearson 1-1 each, D O'Brien 0-2, H Kelly, C Kelly, A Fox, B Shovlin, P Flaherty 0-1 each. Cuala: D Spillane 1-2 (0-1f), O Murphy 1-0, N O'Callaghan 0-3 (0-3f), T Lane 0-1.
Kilmacud Crokes: O Doherty; S McEntee, S Daly, N Nolan; P Leonard, E Sheehy, H Kelly; B Shovlin, C Kelly; T Fox, C Pearson, J Gallagher; D O'Brien, E Higgins, A Fox. Subs: B Carr for Sheehy (25, BC), S O'Dwyer for Leonard (49), P Flaherty for T Fox (53, BC), M Barry for Gallagher (60).
Cuala: D O'Reilly; D Maas, E Kelly, P McKeon; D Twomey, D Collopy, J Murphy; A Power, J Flynn; O Murphy, N O'Callaghan, T Lane; P Murray, J Mahony, D Spillane. Subs: S Grogan for McKeon (half-time), K Wylde for Twomey and C O'Kelly for Murray (47).
Mentors - Kilmacud Crokes: Pat Duggan, Martin McDermott, Fionan Daly, Robbie Behan, Enda Kelly. Cuala: Maurice O'Callaghan, Declan Murray.
Referee: Philip Fitzsimons (Liffey Gaels)
Wides: Kilmacud Crokes 7 (4+3) Cuala 5 (1+4)
Conditions: Cold and damp but pitch stood up well to elements.
Player of the Game: Harry Kelly (Kilmacud Crokes).