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Kilmacud crowned

FEW enough things in life are inevitable but there was a sense of destiny being fulfilled about Kilmacud Crokes winning their fifth Evening Herald Dublin SHC 'A' on a crisp and dull afternoon in Parnell Park yesterday.

The Kilmacud hurling revolution has been in full swing now for close to a decade and the Stillorgan men have mopped up Féile, minor and under-21 titles with enough regularity to make their first senior county title since 1985 something of a rite of passage.



DESERVED

Yesterday's losers, Cuala, too have been pushing up green shoots at various underage levels and possess a smattering of Dublin senior and future seniors to make them realistic champions. But in truth yesterday, they were below their best against Crokes, who wholly deserved their win.

It was, amusingly, billed as the 'Poshest final ever', such is the affluence associated with the geographical base of both clubs.

And true to type, we had a Ross O'Carroll and a Kelly in the Crokes attack at one stage but southside stereotypes aside, it was -- for the good of Dublin hurling at least -- probably a welcome break from the awesome Ballyboden domination and the first of presumably many sightings of either team in finals.

Crokes were more direct and they took the game to Cuala who, it seemed, were unsuited to the heavy conditions and over-elaborated at times when the straight-forward and most obvious option was probably best. They scored nine points, just six from play, and their regret will be knowing that in David Treacy they had the best forward on the pitch but failed completely to get him into the game.

The hour passed Mark Schutte by uneventfully enough too, and it's either testimony to Niall Corcoran and Ronan Walsh's zealous and confident defending or a failing of Cuala that between Schutte and Treacy, their only tangible return was a single point.

Being fair about it, Corcoran in particular played like an inter-county player and led from the back, vigilantly keeping tabs on whichever forward happened to come his way, smartly sweeping and aiding and abetting his corner men when he happened to be spare.

Crokes half-back line too, was wholly dominant.Rory O'Carroll looked like a player who could make the swap to small ball without too much turbulence and his younger brother, Bill, seems equipped for a promotion to seniordom sooner rather than later.

As an aside, team captain Ross did, at one point, give one of the most amusing displays of brotherly love ever witnessed in Parnell Park.

When Bill caught a Cuala puckout with only a couple of minutes left -- and five points between the sides -- and cleared, he was awarded a free from where the sliotar landed after being fouled.

Kevin O'Loughlin's converted free was probably the clincher and Ross, visibly determined to add a county hurling title to his already bulging and varied medal collection, proceeded to chase Bill back the couple of metres he had retreated and in a unique and zealous geeing-up gesture, pulled across the rump of his younger sibling with perhaps more force than had been intended.

Shortly after, the Crokes physio was applying ice to said rump as Bill knelt down in visible pain, much to the amusement of just about everybody on the main terrace.

Anyway, all three had fine games and it probably comes as a disappointment to all future Dublin hurling managers to learn that Mr and Mrs O'Carroll didn't produce a couple more strapping sons.

Ross was instrumental in the first goal, setting up Kevin O'Loughlin after a direct run and even though the latter's shot came back off the crossbar, Barry O'Rorke was there to play poacher.



KILLER BLOW

Five minutes later, it was two -- another killer blow -- and this time from Ryan O'Dwyer, who got the final and telling touch on Seánie McGrath's long free, a score which had the half-time tale-of-the-tape reading 2-3 to 0-4 in Crokes favour.

And the second half proceeded and concluded along familiar and predictable lines. Conor Clinton started motoring in midfield and with both of the Crokes defensive lines collectively winning their wars, the closest Cuala got was two points (0-8 to 2-4) when they scored four of the first half points of the half.

Barry Connolly (son of Galway legend Joe) was, along with Cian Waldron (0-2) their best forward and even if it wasn't slick or stylish, Crokes won the hard balls up front and O'Loughlin steered them home with placed balls.

The big bad world of Leinster club hurling awaits and given the degree of difficulty 'Boden endured outside their local fiefdom in the past five years (and the fact that both the Wexford and Kilkenny Champions inhabit the same side of the draw), it's probably unlikely Crokes will make significant waves this year at least.

Yesterday in Parnell Park was their day though and you have to imagine, the first of many, many more to come.


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