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Late Crokes burst bags dogged win

Evening Herald Dublin SFC holders Kilmacud Crokes secured a hard-earned victory over Thomas Davis at a rain-soaked O'Toole Park last night.

The game, due to be the second part of a double-header before the postponement of the St Mary's and Ballyboden St Enda's clash, was in the balance until three unanswered Crokes points late on secured their safe passage.

Davis will feel they had the chance to follow up on their superb opening-round win over Boden, but will also have to acknowledge they came up against a side filled with star quality.

No Crokes player epitomised this more than Longford's Brian Kavanagh. Last season's footballer of the year was a constant menace, and he punished any indiscipline with unerring accuracy from the dead ball.

His opener cancelled out a superb effort form Davis centre-forward Ciaran Farrelly. Indeed, Farrelly, along with Shane McGrath and Paul Hudson, caused numerous problems for the winners' defence.

Hudson's point from a near impossible angle pushed his side in front after the opening quarter before a quick double from Liam Óg Ó hEineachain, a fine effort from Pat Burke and a Kavanagh free gave Crokes the initiative.

McGrath and Hudson struck again just before the break to cut the gap once more and leave it delicately poised at the turnaround, 0-6 to 0-5.

The winners seemed to be taking control after the interval when Ó hEineachain and Kavanagh split the flags to give them a three-point cushion. But the Kiltipper Road men rallied and three frees on the bounce from Hudson and another from Farrelly put them in the lead as the momentum completely swung in their favour.

Yet again it was Kavanagh who stemmed the tide with two further frees before Davis midfielder Eoin Kirby, central to all that was good about his side in the second half, restored parity.

But that aforementioned late flurry from Crokes all but ended the game. First, Kevin Nolan stole forward from his wing-back berth to tap over from close range. Then substitute and veteran Ray Cosgrove found his range with a monster effort off his left boot before Declan Kelleher also got in on the act.

Farrelly did pull one back again but it proved to matter little as Cosgrove had the final say to capture a deserved win.

Tempers threatened to boil over at the death with a number of minor altercations, but thankfully after a clean and sporting contest, it never got out of hand.

SCORERS - Kilmacud Crokes: B Kavanagh 0-6 (0-5f), L Óg Ó hEineachain 0-3, R Cosgrove 0-2, D Kelleher, P Burke, K Nolan 0-1 each. Thomas Davis: P Hudson 0-5 (0-3f), C Farrelly 0-4 (0-2f), E Kirby, S McGrath 0-1 each.

KILMACUD CROKES: D Nestor; E Culligan, Rory O'Carroll, N McGrath; R Ryan, B McGrath, K Nolan; P Duggan, C Diaz; K Diaz, D Kelleher, L Óg Ó hEineachain; B O'Rorke, B Kavanagh, P Burke. Subs: R Cosgrove for O'Rorke (40)

THOMAS DAVIS: D Hennessy; A Fallon, Brian Kirby, P Boland; E Behan, Brendan Kirby, G Carruth; J O'Connor, E Kirby; S McGrath, C Farrelly, S Reilly; J O'Reilly, D Shanahan, P Hudson. Subs: S Ellis for Brendan Kirby (45), C Galvin for Fallon (47), S Smith for O'Reilly (54).

REFEREE: N Cocoman (St Oliver Plunketts/ER).