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Mullin saves Crokes' day



TERRACE talk aplenty at Páirc de Burca on Sunday morning. And now a second helping to look forward to.

Dublin County Board supremo, Andy Kettle, had to return to Parnell Park with the cup. A pity the clubs couldn't keep it for six months each.

The tie held many different chapters. Crokes looked set to win it for a long time. Late on, Na Fianna were in poll position to do so before a late, late penalty rescued Kilmacud.

"It was a cracking match," offered Kilmacud's Michael McNicholas. "Two excellent footballing sides.

"There was no quarter given, but it was sporting. There were some lovely scores."

Na Fianna's Jimmy Ward agreed. "There was only a kick of a ball between us. We started slowly, but any day you come out here and get a draw is a good day," he said.

In their league meeting, Crokes won by three points at Collinstown, and for most of this hour they were ahead. Yet the Mobhi men never left their heels.

There was a terrific tempo. Ronnie Malone was the referee. He played in goal for St Mary's in this year's Dublin SFC.

One of the best duels of the contest involved the Na Fianna full-forward, Conor McHugh, a peach of a footballer.

James Murphy was marking the gifted Dub. James was as eager as a clamper looking for the Christmas bonus.


Time and again, the shout rose from the sideline: "Well done, James." Conor was the scorer-in-chief but only for the diligence of James, he would have had a few more in the bank.

Looking on was Croke Park caterer, Denis Gorey. The Na Fianna 'keeper, Stephen Murray, contributed to the fine cuisine. He's a pupil of the Stephen Cluxton school. He landed two '45s' and a free.

The best save of the tie came from his opposite number, Conor Murray, who denied McHugh in the first half.

The home number 14, Oisín O'Rorke, also has much merit in the boots. And it was Oisín's assured finish that brought the opening goal at the Ball Wall end in the 17th minute. The hosts led at the interval, 1-6 to 0-7. O'Rorke's goal had put them six points in front, but the Glasnevin lads had a fruitful passage before the tea.

Three points from McHugh had them level on 1-7 to 0-10 in the 46th minute. Cian Mac Gabhann's quick reply edged Crokes back into the lead.

But then, in the 52nd minute, the climate changed when McHugh managed to nip in for a goal that put Na Fianna ahead for the first time.

High drama now. Mark Hanratty got a point back for Kilmacud Crokes before McHugh sunk another putt.

And when Glen O'Reilly made it three points to the good with three minutes left, it was looking like the prize was going northside.

The game had ticked into its first minute of injury-time when Neil Gorey showed strength and daring to force his way past the Na Fianna cover and plant the ball in the basket.

But he had been fouled on his journey and the whistle had already sounded for a penalty.

Up-stepped Dara Mullin. Stillorgan held its breath. Mullin's spot-kick rattled the garden gate.

So another day out for two cultured teams. Denis Gorey has the table set already.