| 8°C Dublin




THE all-conquering Kickhams Kings put a few more jewels in their ever-expanding crown in Parnell Park last Saturday.

Around town, they are known as The Invincibles. They have been winning matches with scores you'd normally associate with the Oval, Lord's or Castle Avenue.

They play with such intelligence. They are always on the front foot, looking for the quick ball into space.

Many of their moves began with a short kick-out from goalkeeper, Eric Cumberton. 'Mun carefully cradle the ball. They don't waste it. They are tidy finishers and didn't shoot a wide until the 20th minute.

On the sideline, Paddy Christie watched it all unfold. Nobody could put a value on the latest cultured Christie collection.

Yet he was the first to acknowledge that Kilmacud had asked some questions of favourites that were hotter than the blazing Donnycarney sunshine.

"We had a lot of chances in the first half. Had we got a goal, we could have pushed on, but in fairness to Kilmacud, they didn't let us get away from them," said Christie.


"We had a very comprehensive victory over them in the league, but this time they were much stronger. I thought they played very well.

"It was a good, competitive game. Crokes had a spell of 10 minutes early in the second half when they really came into their own. It was our biggest test to date by miles.

"The conditions suited us. It was a big, open pitch. It was dry ground and nice weather. We have a small side. It would have been a different game if you played it on a muddy surface in October. So Crokes are due much credit."

Like Christie, the Kilmacud manager, Pat Duggan, has given a lifetime to football. He likes the way things are shaping up in Páirc de Burca.

Maurice Leahy is part of Pat's management unit. He wore the Dublin jersey and won an All-Ireland with Crokes. Many of this young generation are sure to follow Leahy's golden boots. "We knew going into the game that we were facing an exceptional team. It was a huge learning curve for our fellas," remarked Duggan.

"But we have made phenomenal progress. I am so immensely proud of them. They stood up to such a fine side. Our wish now is that in two years' time we will have improved enough to give Ballymun a serious run."

The Stillorgan club are well on the road to achieving that already. They carved out generous portions of possession and played some crisp football.

Yet Ballymun, attacking the score-board end in the opening half, took some neat scores, often under the pressure of a challenge or from a tight angle.

And they would have had a goal or two only for the heroics of Kilmacud 'keeper, Oisin Doherty, whose display must have been admired by Ballymun's James Talbot, the Home Farm goalkeeper, who is on his way to Sunderland.

Kickhams led by 0-7 to 0-2 at half-time. Yet Crokes had reduced the deficit to two points, 0-7 to 0-5, within eight minutes of the second period following scores from Michael Frawley, Joe Doyle and Tom Fox, while Doyle also shaved the post.

The southside cheers were getting louder, but Ballymun remained calm, kept picking their passes and replied with Anton Swan's free and a point from Glenn Doyle.

The excellent Conor Kelly brought it back to three points in the 41st minute, but that was the last score Ballymun conceded as they defended tightly.

Two strikes from Paddy Small, another Swan free and a Dillon Keating point eased the concerns of the Páirc Ciceam followers.

But Crokes kept at it, and only a brilliant save from Cumberton prevented a Callum Pearson goal.

Keating hit another point for the last note of the day as the 'Mun got ready to enjoy another helping of peaches and cream.