Mulligan brace ensures Crokes have final say
Kilmacud conquer Cuala to tee up decider with Boden
KILMACUD CROKES .1-11
CUALA . 1-7
Kilmacud Crokes advanced to the final of the (2011) Dublin U21 'A' Hurling Championship following a hard-earned four-point win over a battling Cuala in front of a large crowd at Hyde Park, Dalkey, last Saturday afternoon.
With the game delicately poised entering the final five minutes, Dillon Mulligan stamped his class on proceedings with two glorious points and, despite a couple of late scares, Crokes deservedly booked a final spot against near neighbours Ballyboden St Enda's.
The sense of anticipation from both sets of supporters was heightened by the late arrival of referee Gearóid McGrath, with the 40-minute delay contributing to a scrappy opening period in which both sides struggled to adapt to the sticky playing surface.
There were few signs of the impending scrappiness when the visitors opened the scoring within the opening minute, with Barry Mulligan availing of an Alan Carr pass to point from the right flank.
That score proved the only one from play within the first 20 minutes, as both sides were guilty of aimless deliveries and poor shot selection, with Cuala in particular spurning many opportunities.
They were made to pay for their profligacy with Kevin O'Loughlin landing a '65' in the sixth minute and following up with an exquisite sideline cut that pushed Kilmacud three points clear inside 10 minutes.
With Ross Tierney, Simon Timlin and Colm O'Farrell defending stoutly, the hosts began to enjoy a greater amount of possession and Dublin minor Colm Cronin reduced his side's deficit to just the minimum with successive frees in the 16th and 20th minutes.
Cronin's midfield partner, Conor Gough, brought Cuala level a minute later with a long-range score but O'Loughlin ended the half with two points from '65s' as Crokes entered the break with a 0-5 to 0-3 advantage.
That lead was stretched to double scores inside 20 seconds of the restart when Dillon Mulligan cleverly found Seán McGrath, who popped over a classy score.
However, far from building on their lead, Kilmacud were rocked by the concession of a goal from the resultant puck-out as Bill O'Carroll and Gary McMorrow struggled to clear and Seán Magee nipped in to strike home clinically beyond a helpless Eoin Dalton from eight metres.
When substitute Paul Butler registered a long-range free two minutes later, Cuala were suddenly ahead for the first time in the game but, critically, they failed to build on this foundation as Kilmacud regained the initiative through two O'Loughlin frees.
Mark Schutte restored parity in the 40th minute but once again O'Loughlin was on hand to restore his side's lead with a cracking turn and shot off his left-hand side before he effectively settled the tie in the 47th minute.
His goal arrived after his initial 20-metre free was repelled on the line, but McGrath worked wonders in keeping the attack alive and O'Loughlin's shot eventually fell over the line.
Two Butler frees offered Cuala hope, but it was fitting that Mulligan should have the final word after a busy performance, with his brace of scores giving Kilmacud a cushion to repel some frantic final Cuala attacks.