Saturday 25 November 2017

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Kilmacud Crokes produced a storming final ten minutes to overcome Na Fianna by two points in their Dublin Minor Hurling League Division 1 (2014) final at O'Toole Park last Friday teatime.

With fifty minutes on the clock, Na Fianna looked likely to replicate their Minor 'A' Hurling Championship success over the same opponents as they dominated possession in the second-half to take a three point advantage.

However, Kilmacud took advantage of their flagging rivals in the closing stages with an opportunist goal from Stevie O'Dwyer entering injury time proving the game's pivotal score.

With both sides missing key personnel, the quality on offer dipped on occasion but there was no doubting the application of the protagonists as they served up a decider rich in excitement and tension.


Crokes were the livelier outfit initially and they took a deserved lead in the 4th minute as Fergal Whitely turned sharply before firing a quintessentially classy point over his shoulder into the pitch and putt end.

A Tom Fox free doubled Kilmacud's lead within a minute and with seemingly greater options in attack, the Stillorgan outfit moved three points clear as O'Dwyer made light of an acute angle to land a cracking score in the 6th minute.

That lead was overturned inside two minutes with Jonathan Treacy opening Na Fianna's account with a close-in free before corner-forward John Connell availed of some confusion in the Kilmacud defence after a lengthy delivery by Kevin McDonnell to net from close range.

The momentum generated by that score was maintained as Eoghan McHugh and Matthew Oliver added points to push Na Fianna three points clear with just ten minutes played.

Crucially, Kilmaced helped wrestle the initiative away from their opponents with Darragh Butler landing an excellent score before parity was restored in the 13th minute when Dan Coakley fired home on the rebound after Eoin Skelly had produced a fine block to deny the rampaging Des Dagg.

Three frees in quick succession by Fox added further credence to Kilmacud's challenge and with Na Fianna far too reliant on the dead-ball prowess of Oliver for scores, Crokes were able to extend their advantage through an excellent point by Alex Considine.


That margin could well have been greater but for a wonderful and acrobatic save from Skelly that repelled Considine's powerful strike in the 27th minute.

However, the second goal that Kilmacud's general play merited arrived three minutes later as O'Dwyer found Whitely in space and the Dublin minor fired a precise finish across Skelly to hand his side a healthy 2-9 to 1-7 interval lead.

It seemed likely that Crokes would push on from this solid platform, especially as Fox added another free within forty seconds of the restart but it proved his side's final score for eighteen minutes as Na Fianna assumed complete control of the middle third.

A smart point from Ciaran Casserly kick-started their revival and a brace of Oliver frees in addition to an inspirational point from Padraig Buggy left two points between the teams by the 36th minute.

Kilmacud were under serious pressure at this stage but their defence generally coped well with the task in hand with Cillian O'Shea and Peter Herlihy in particular showing well.

However, Na Fianna had drawn level by the end of the third quarter through points from McHugh and Oliver and another lovely score from Casserly regained the lead for the Mobhi Road outfit on 47 minutes.

Points from Gavin King and Oliver looked enough for Na Fianna but Kilmacud awoke from their slumber to hit three points on the bounce through a brace by Fox and a smart Considine effort.

The grandstand finish that the contest deserved was provided in the 61st minute as Treacy, who swapped duties with Skelly at half-time, denied Sean Keating only for O'Dwyer to pull home from eight yards.

Scorers - Kilmacud Crokes: T Fox 0-9 (0-8f), F Whitely, S O'Dwyer 1-1 each, D Coakley 1-0, A Considine 0-2, D Butler 0-1. Na Fianna: M Oliver 0-10 (0-9f, 0-1 '65'), J Connell 1-0, C Casserley, G King (0-1f, 0-1 '65'), E McHugh 0-2 each, J Treacy (f), P Buggy 0-1 each.

Kilmacud Crokes: C Fleming; C McNicholas, E Sheehy, C O'Shea; P Herlihy, C Keane, C O'Dwyer; D Dagg, T Fox; S Keating, D Butler, F Whitely; S O'Dwyer, A Considine, D Coakley. Subs: M Crowley for Coakley (45).

Na Fianna: E Skelly; M Sewell, C Doran, S Jamieson-Murphy; P Herlihy, S Barrett, P Buggy; C Stacey, G King; M Oliver, E McHugh, L Fenton; C Casserley, J Treacy, J Connell. Subs: D Foy for Skelly (40), M Gaffney for Foy (56).

Mentors - Kilmacud Crokes: Kevin Coakley, Collie Maher Na Fianna: Declan Feeney, Billy Fenton, Paddy Oliver, Daire Meleady.

Referee: Pat Murphy Snr (Thomas Davis)

Wides: Kilmacud Crokes 5 (3+2) Na Fianna 10 (3+7)

Conditions: Chilly with pitch relatively heavy underfoot.

Player of the Game: Des Dagg (Kilmacud Crokes)

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