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Carr toasts power of collective will

The big cup headed back to Glenalbyn last night as Kilmacud Crokes secured their fourth title in seven years with a mite to spare at Parnell Park.

A stirring second-half display just carried too much purchase for St Brigid's, who had earlier added the Intermediate title to their Junior A and C crowns.

For Crokes, deprived of county stars Paul Griffin, Mark Davoren and Darren Magee through injury, the victory was a resounding celebration of the collective. Team manager Paddy Carr reflected afterwards: "There's so much intensive work done with regard to just getting lads to buy into that mindset. And it's been very intense, trying to get it right.

"These lads are learning an awful lot about themselves. We've a lot of big names in this squad, lads who have done an awful lot in football. But they're just so willing to get in there, accept the decisions that we make and go with it.

"And some of the young lads have really stepped up for us."

The 2009 All-Ireland champions found space at a premium to begin with and actually reached the break trailing 0-5 to 0-4. Brigid's, who had restricted a star-studded Oliver Plunkett's attack to paltry rations in the semi-final, were back programmed to hunt glamorous scalps.

They kept coaxing Crokes down cul-de-sacs and, for a time, the Stillorgan outfit might as well have been taking skipping ropes into a confessional.

At the other end, Paddy Andrews was giving Ross O'Carroll a torrid time and the third of Andrews' first-half points might even have been a goal, but for O'Carroll's quick recovery after a fine, diagonal pass from Ken Darcy.

Brigid's spilled eight wides to their opponents' three in that first half and, with better shooting, looked well set to claim only their second senior title.

But Carr felt Crokes were playing, as he put it, "with the handbrake on" and they turned the game on its head within four minutes of the resumption. Pat Burke and Brian Kavanagh (a free) scored quick-fire points before a wonderful move involving Niall Corkery, Ronan Ryan, Adrian Morrissey and Corkery again ended with an unmarked Kavanagh flicking a simple finish to the net.

Brigid's rallied to be fair, scoring four of the next five points. Sean Murray, especially, came storming into the game from centre-back and, approaching the final quarter, they looked to have averted crisis with the score now squeezed again at 1-7 to 0-9.

But then, Crokes cut them open once more, Liam Og O hEineachain and Corkery combining to put Morrissey through only for the Wexford man to be unceremoniously grounded by Gavin Kane. Shane Supple saved well from Mark Vaughan's penalty, but the Crokes substitute followed up for a simple tap-in.

Seconds later, Morrissey was in again, pouncing on confusion between Peadar Andrews and Kane only to be denied by another splendid Supple save. The ball, though, ricocheted out to Declan Kelleher and Crokes' figures improved further.

Brigid's movement became increasingly laboured as the game began to age and, with Vaughan dramatically increasing Crokes' targets, the Stillorgan men just carried a greater breadth of danger. Their half-backs became increasingly emboldened and the midfield of Corkery and Paddy Duggan began to dominate too.

Brigid's last chance of redemption passed with maybe 10 minutes remaining when Darcy dived low to punch a Kane cross goalward only for David Nestor to put the ball out for a '45.

Goalkeeper Supple pushed his kick wide and -- with it -- flew any remaining Blanchardstown hopes of a comeback.

For Crokes, there was one mildly needling subtext to the conclusion when Ross O'Carroll got the line for a second yellow card with the game already deep in added time. Yet, it mattered not a jot to the bigger picture.

A seventh crown was on its way to Pairc De Burca, Burke's victory speech striking a nice balance between exultation at the deed and dignified appreciation of Brigid's solid growth as a power in the city game.

Crokes' pedigree (they also won an All-Ireland under Tommy Lyons in '95) will have them short odds now for the upcoming campaign in Leinster. Carr, mind, is not in the business of giddy proclamation.

"Look, with the recession and everything, it's just nice to try and get through the winter playing football."

The power of the collective will give them every chance.

SCORERS -- Kilmacud Crokes: B Kavanagh 1-4 (0-3 frees), M Vaughan 1-2 (0-1f), C O'Sullivan, D Kelleher, A Morrissey, B O'Rorke (0-1f), P Burke, C Dias 0-1 each. St Brigid's: Paddy Andrews 0-4 (0-1f), K Darcy 0-3 (0-3f), P Ryan 0-2, B Cahill, S Supple (0-1 '45) 0-1 each.

KILMACUD CROKES -- D Nestor; Ross O'Carroll, Rory O'Carroll, C Lamb; B McGrath, C O'Sullivan, R Ryan; N Corkery, P Duggan; L Og O hEineachain, D Kelleher, A Morrissey; B O'Rorke, B Kavanagh, P Burke. Subs: M Vaughan for O'Rorke (37), C Dias for Morrissey (50), L McBarron for Duggan (59), N McGrath for Corkery (61).

ST BRIGID'S -- S Supple; A Daly, Peadar Andrews, G Norton; G Kane, S Murray, D Lally; C Mullins, B Cahill; M Cahill, K Bonner, K Kilmurray; Paddy Andrews, K Darcy, P Ryan. Subs: D Plunkett for Kilmurray (40), C Kilmurray for Lally (45), C Carr for M Cahill (51), N Davey for Bonner (59), C Freeman for Murray (60).

Ref -- K Tighe (St Annes).

Irish Independent