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Crokes' King O Riain quick to press home importance of his bench

THE Kilmacud Sub-Marines made a major impact. That's one of the principal reasons why the Evening Herald Dublin SHC 'A' title is now residing in the Páirc de Búrca Boardroom.

That was the verdict of the Crokes chief, Gearóid ó Riain, out under the floodlights on the Parnell Park pitch yesterday evening.

"Lads don't believe you when you say it's one to 26. But that point was proven yet again," declared Gearóid, who has been with the club since he was 10-years-old.

He played minor and U21 for the Dubs before Lar Foley called him to senior ranks. A future manager could only learn at the altar of Lar.

And as he shook hands with all of Stillorgan, Gearóid added: "We were able to bring on lads, and those fresh legs made all the difference.

"It wasn't that the fellas on the pitch were doing anything wrong. We had guys cramping up and that, and that is why it is so important to have a strong bench."

Gearóid accepted that Cuala had asked some serious questions.

"It was a real battle. We were helped a lot in the first half by the two goals we scored. But in the second half, Cuala won a lot of breaking ball, and they were giving us real problems. And that's where the strength of the squad came in."

The Crokes manager revealed that last year's quarter-final defeat by O'Toole's was the spur to change the Glenalbyn landscape. "That was a real kick in the backside. We took a long, hard look at ourselves after that," stressed the Crokes supremo.

"We didn't talk once about winning championships this year, not even before this final.

"We just focused on performance and trying to deliver the goods.

"We concentrated on getting the basics right and making the most of our ability.

"And thankfully it worked."

Having the entire group together, including their dual inter-county personnel, for much of the season was also a major plus.

"Dublin not progressing as well this year helped us a lot. Last year we only had all the lads available for three weeks in total. That's an impossible situation.

"But this time it was much better. We even had them all in for four or five weeks over April and May, never mind the last couple of months.

"We then said we'd give it a bit of a push for six weeks and see what happens. We just had to focus the mind," added ó Riain.

The Cuala manager, Harry Roberts, and their captain, Bobby Browne, emerged from the Kilmacud dressing-room after offering their congratulations.

"I don't think we did ourselves justice out there," admitted Harry.

"And the lads are really hurting.

"We are absolutely devastated. Kilmacud are a fine side, but we just didn't perform on the day.

"We'll try and pick them up as best we can.

"But I met some Cuala guys after the game that have three Dublin senior hurling championship medals.

"But they were saying they had to lose one before they won one, so hopefully we'll go on from here."

Crokes progress to represent Dublin in the Leinster Club SHC and they will face Wexford champions, Oulart-The Ballagh (2-12 to 0-13 victors over Faythe Harriers in their county final), in Parnell Park on Sunday, November 4.