Thursday 19 April 2018

Ballymun Rock on to end 27-year title wait

Ballymun Kickhams 1-12Kilmacud Crokes 0-14
Dublin SFC final

Davy Byrne of Ballymun Kickhams tries to prevent Kilmacud's Cian O'Sullivan from gaining possession in the Dublin SFC final at Parnell Park
Davy Byrne of Ballymun Kickhams tries to prevent Kilmacud's Cian O'Sullivan from gaining possession in the Dublin SFC final at Parnell Park

Kilmacud Crokes couldn't manage a Houdini act for the second week running at Parnell Park as Ballymun Kickhams survived a second-half onslaught to win their first Dublin title in 27 years.

Dean Rock was their hero with a smart scoring performance, emulating his father Barney, who was involved in the 1985 success.

Rock Jnr kicked seven points, two from frees, with his seventh point on 57 minutes giving them sufficient daylight as they cushioned themselves with a four-point lead (1-12 to 0-11) in the face of the late surge that inevitably came from the Glenalbyn men.

Ballymun had coughed up a six-point lead in last year's semi-final against St Brigid's and there were times in the second half last night when it looked like history might repeat itself.

Emboldened by their own dramatic 14-point second-half comeback against St Brigid's in the semi-final, Kilmacud cut impressively into the six-point interval deficit with Pat Burke giving a masterclass with four unanswered points to reduce the deficit to two.

But Rock fired over a crucial point on 45 minutes to stem the flow before the impressive Jason Whelan kicked in with two more vital points to ease the pressure on Paul Curran's side.

Late points from Mark Vaughan, only a substitute on the night, from play and from a free and Declan Kelliher had the anxious Ballymun contingent on the edge of their seats, but their team had enough composure to see out the match.

There were times when it looked like Ballymun might run away with it in the first half, such was the quality of their play.

Kilmacud were sluggish in their approach work and even their much vaunted defence struggled to get to grips with Ballymun's movement.

Ballymun were already showing signs of an ability to prise open the Kilmacud defence when Kevin Leahy's speculative and inviting delivery teased David Nestor off his line to meet it but his timing was wrong and Shane Forde nipped in to punch home an eighth minute goal to add to the early points from Rock and Ted Furman whose shot flashed off the crossbar on its way over.

That gave the northsiders a 1-2 to 0-1 lead but the momentum and belief it gave them was even more significant.

Early on, Crokes were largely dependent on young Paul Mannion, a member of last year's Dublin minor team who has developed very quickly at this level in recent months and his three points at the other end, one for a free after Pat Burke was fouled, kept them in touch when a rampant Ballymun threatened to pull away. The pace of James McCarthy bursting from midfield and quick movement of the ball into the full-forward line, from the likes of Jason Whelan and Kevin Leahy, presented a real threat to the 2009 All-Ireland champions.

That fast delivery was emphasised best when McCarthy lifted a perfect 30-metre pass into space where Rock gathered and effortlessly swung over their eighth point for that 1-8 to 0-5 lead and gave them a sense that a 27-year gap could be bridged and a third title could be added to their collection.

Despite conceding so many inches, Ballymun's midfield pair of McCarthy and Davy Byrne were lively while the aggression and anticipation in defence from Alan Hubbard, Philly McMahon and Karl Connolly gave Crokes very few obvious opportunities in that first half.

Craig Dias and Kevin Nolan did steal in for points but generally the Ballymun defence were organised and secure.

But those quick points on the restart from Pat Burke and a noticeable lift in productivity from Pat Duggan, Liam Og O hEineachain and Dias around the middle completely changed the dynamic of this game.

The same fluency that was characteristic of Ballymun's attacking play in the first half was missing as Kilmacud dropped greater numbers to defence and tackled with much greater conviction, especially Cian O'Sullivan and Kevin Nolan who punched forward with much greater regularity.

Kilmacud missed the composure of Longford player Brian Kavanagh, who is travelling, in attack but they will be disappointed to have conceded so many soft scores on the night.

Ballymun have placed a lot of faith in this team and the victory is a reward for the regeneration of their underage structures over the last decade.

Rock will surely play a much more central role under Jim Gavin's regime than he did over the last few years with Pat Gilroy while Mannion is another who must be on the radar for a call up despite his years.

Scorers -- Ballymun Kickhams: D Rock 0-7 (2f), S Forde 1-0, J Whelan 0-3 (1f), T Furman, K Leahy 0-1 each. Kilmacud Crokes: P Burke, P Mannion (1f) 0-4 each, M Vaughan 0-3 (2f), C Dias, K Nolan, D Kelliher 0-1 each.

Ballymun Kickhams -- S Currie; Enda Dolan, P McMahon, Eoin Dolan; A Hubbard, K Connolly, J Burke; D Byrne, J McCarthy; E Reilly, K Leahy, J Whelan; T Furman, D Rock, S Forde. Subs: Derek Byrne for Forde (h-t), J Small for Enda Dolan (45), A O'Brien for Leahy (55).

Kilmacud Crokes -- D Nestor; Ross O'Carroll, Rory O'Carroll, C O'Sullivan; M Coughlan, B McGrath, K Nolan; P Duggan, D Magee; C Dias, L Og O hEineachain, P Burke; S Williams, P Mannion, P Burke. Subs: D Kelliher for Morrissey (h-t), R Ryan for Coughlan (h-t), M Vaughan for Williams (48), B O'Rorke for O hEineachain (48), E Culligan for McGrath (56).

Ref -- S Gahan (Erin's Isle).

Irish Independent

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