Saturday 24 March 2018

Cunningham goes in for Kil'

Crokes centre-forward hits six to leave Mobhi men in a spin

KILMACUD CROKES ..................... 0-14

NA FIANNA .............................. 0-12

CLASSY Kilmacud Crokes made it two wins from two in Division 1 of the minor football league thanks to a hard-earned victory over great rivals Na Fianna in Collinstown Lane on Sunday morning.

After their opening day demolition of Castleknock, the southsiders appeared to be taking up where they left off when they raced into 0-8 to 0-2 lead after 20 minutes.

Their centre-forward, Shane Cunningham, was at the heart of everything they did. The talented number 11 was both creator and finisher and it was he who got the opening score.

Darragh Mullen was also to the fore and he kicked three points in the first quarter as the hosts struggled to contain the direct style of the Crokes attack.

Indeed, that directness was perhaps best displayed through a score from Mullen, who carried the ball some 40 metres through the heart of the opposition defence before neatly tapping over on 15 minutes.

The lively Conor McHugh popped over a free to get Na Fianna's account off the mark before a wonderful individual effort from Paul Finnegan, after some good work by wing-back Seán Griffin, just about kept them in touch.

In the main, though, their forward line was presented with a stubborn and well drilled Crokes' defence in which Ross McGowan and James Murphy were outstanding.

But the Glasnevin men have been the specialists in this grade for the past number of years and dragged themselves back into contention with a 10-minute scoring burst which yielded six points without reply before the break.


Finnegan grabbed his second after Andrew Murphy put him clear with an inch perfect cross-field pass.

Joey Fitzgerald, wearing number 14 but operating in the middle third, began to exert his influence as he took the game to Crokes and he got in on the act by impressively kicking a monster score.

Suddenly it was all Na Fianna as Finnegan, Eric Caffrey (two) and Cathal Buckley all raised the white flag to give them an unlikely advantage at the break, 0-9 to 0-8.

Given that it is still very early in the season, and the fact that temperatures were unusually high for the time of year, it was no surprise when the pace of the game dropped somewhat in the second period.

It was the winners, however, who, just like in the first half, settled the quickest and another Cunningham brace sandwiched a Matthew McNicholas free to put them back in the ascendancy.

Buckley stole forward from the half-back line to respond for Na Fianna but, despite enjoying much of the possession, poor decision making in front of goal was proving detrimental to their chances.

When Caffrey did manage to find the target, Mullen was at hand to restore his side's two-point advantage with a fine score on the turn after out-jumping his marker to maintain possession on the end line.

McHugh's free entering injury time set up a tense finale, but fittingly it was to be Cunningham who had the final say when he coolly slotted over an injury-time free to ensure the win.

Going forward, both teams will be under no illusions as to what they need to do for the bigger challenges that lie in store later in the year.

But Crokes will be quietly satisfied with their showing here while Na Fianna, after drawing with Ballyboden St Enda's three weeks ago, still await their first victory.

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