Kilmacud march on to the Leinster final
Pace and power eventually overcomes brave Meath champions
GENEROUS Glenalbyn applause ... for both teams. And another slice of history for Kilmacud Crokes.
They progressed to their first Tesco Intermediate Club Leinster Championship football final.
A packed terrace saw them defeat Meath's Simonstown, 4-11 to 3-4, last Sunday afternoon.
For a spell in the first half, Crokes looked like they were going to run away with the match like the Stillorgan Express.
But the resolute Royals didn't fold the tent. They made a game of it. And that's the reason they were clapped into the dressing-room.
The hosts also got a warm ovation as they left the field. They were full of running.
There's plenty of pace in the side. Dublin's Molly Lamb was in control in the boiler-house.
She was forever on the ball, bursting forward and setting up chances for a busy forward unit.
The Meath club also possessed some diamonds. Chief among them was centre half-back, Katie Bellew, who kept the kettle boiling.
Their full-forward, Naoise De Graaff, took watching, as did the impressive corner-forward, Kelly Harris.
Simonstown had the brightest of openings. Within seconds, Harris kicked a point at the score-board end.
But then, Crokes completely took over. The visitors could hardly get out of their own half.
The Dublin champions piled on the scores.
And they hit a cluster of wides too - 16 over the hour.
Crokes quickly built up a 10-point lead.
Kilmacud's opening goal came in the fifth minute. Rachel Gallagher cut in on the right, and from a tight angle, her shot nestled inside the far post.
The second goal was worth the bus fare on the 46A as Philippa Green planted the most delicious shot with the outside of her right boot into the right-hand side of the net.
It brought a wonderful reaction from the gallery. And it made it 2-5 to two points. Then, on 24 minutes, Simonstown were lifted by a goal from Harris.
And three minutes before half-time, Regina Hand released De Graaff for their second goal.
Suddenly, all was not so rosy in the Kilmacud garden.
It was 2-7 to 2-2 at the interval. And seconds into the second period, Simonstown were awarded a penalty, which Harris converted - a tidy left-footer to the right corner.
De Graaff quickly slotted over another score and now Simonstown only trailed by a point.
It was a commendable recovery. And not an eye was leaving the stage.
Michelle Davoren and Harris exchanged frees. High tension now.
On 45 minutes came a decisive moment. Aoife Kane found a yard to the right of the posts, and despite being challenged as she made the connection, the ball sped into the roof of the net.
That goal lifted Crokes, and Simonstown were not to score again.
Kilmacud began to pull away with three points from Gallagher, Kane and Holly Greer.
And it was Greer who got the fourth goal five minutes from time as she raced away and hit a thumping shot on the run low to the left corner.
All over now, it seemed, but, like all champions, Simonstown kept at it, and the noble De Graaff forced a smart stop from Martha O'Connor.
Crokes will meet Sarsfields of Kildare in the final on Sunday, October 26.