Kilmacud full-forward breaks Mobhi Road hearts in thrilling SHC final twist
Dublin SHC ‘A’ final
Kilmacud Crokes 4-26
Na Fianna 2-25
Kilmacud Crokes claimed their sixth Dublin Senior Hurling Championship title when overcoming Na Fianna by 4-26 to 2-25 after extra-time in their thrilling decider at Parnell Park on Saturday evening.
The scoreline itself fails to do justice to an absorbing contest that ebbed and flowed throughout with Kilmacud finding sufficient reserves of energy and enterprise to dominate extra-time and secure an ultimately deserved success.
However, they will recognise their fortune in getting over the line given they played second fiddle to an inspired Na Fianna side for the majority of normal time with only late goals from Oisín O’Rorke and Ronan Hayes sparing them a fourth final defeat since 2016.
Hayes was a central figure in extra-time, scoring six of his team’s eight points, and with O’Rorke chipping in with two scores, their increasingly ragged opponents lacked the cohesion to reel in their deficit.
Much of the speculation in advance of the final suggested that both forwards lines could make a lasting impression on events and so it proved from the first whistle as the large attendance in Donnycarney were treated to a glut of scores.
Dónal Burke was first to trouble the umpires when converting a long-distance free in the opening minute and Seán Currie doubled his team’s advantage with a cracking point from halfway as the underdogs showed few, if any, signs of nerves in what was their first final at this level.
An initially hesitant Crokes team gradually found their rhythm as captain Caolan Conway landed a settling score in the 5th minute with Hayes levelling matters three minutes later before Kilmacud struck for the game’s opening goal.
Hayes was centrally involved as he gained possession on the right flank and his pass allowed Alex Considine to find the roof of the net from ten yards, albeit via a deflection from Jonathan Treacy in the Na Fianna goal.
Na Fianna’s response to this body blow was admirable and immediate as Burke and Micheál Murphy replied with points at the opposite end and the former edged his team ahead in the 13th minute as he buried a penalty beyond Eddie Gibbons after Colin Currie has been upended by Brian Sheehy inside the square.
The scores continued to arrive in quick succession as Seán Currie began to dominate matters up front for Na Fianna with his ability to find space and accuracy in front of goal yielding two further points that maintained his team’s two-point advantage (1-7 to 1-5) by the first water break.
His influence was even more pronounced in the second quarter and although points from Fergal Whitely, O’Rorke and Hayes saw the teams deadlocked at 1-8 apiece by the 19th minute, it was evident that Na Fianna were beginning to play the game on their own terms.
Granted, Considine broke free for a shot parried over the crossbar by Treacy but in general, Na Fianna, with Fergal Breathnach an intelligent and omnipresent figure at the back, seized control around the middle third with Currie the main beneficiary.
He doubled his personal tally to six points by half-time and with his team completely on top, both Micheál Murphy and AJ Murphy added points to leave the Glasnevin team four points (1-15 to 1-11) to the good by the turnaround.
The second half resumed in a similar vein of Na Fianna control as Crokes looked bereft of inspiration up front and while Hayes kept their scoreboard ticking over from placed balls, Burke was proving equally proficient at the opposite end.
The margin remained at four points by the 43rd minute but Na Fianna finished the quarter on a high as Liam Rushe, AJ Murphy and Seán Currie tagged on points to keep their team well positioned at 1-23 to 1-17 by the second water break.
Burke appeared to have settled the issue when sweeping home past Gibbons in the 50th minute but they were only to score one solitary point in the concluding fifteen minutes as Crokes began to burst with pace from deep and they crucially replied immediately to that concession as Fergal Whitely poked home from close range.
Both Davy Crowe and Padhraic Linehan were hugely influential during this period and the drama intensified even further as Hayes spurned a glorious opportunity to bring his team back into contention when blazing wide from a penalty following a foul on substitute Shane Veale in the 54th minute.
They did receive their lifeline four minutes later however, as O’Rorke made light work of the acute angle to crash home past Treacy and with Na Fianna holding on grimly to their three-point lead, Linehan embarked on another powerful surge that culminated in Hayes firing superbly past Treacy, ensuring extra-time in the process.
It was hard to look past Kilmacud at this stage given the healthy amount of momentum at their backs and while Na Fianna opened up brightly in extra-time, some errant shooting undermined their challenge as they struck three careless wides in quick succession.
In contrast, Crokes made the most of the opportunities that came their way with Hayes and O’Rorke clipping over points and while Kevin Burke replied with a stirring point from distance in the 69th minute, O’Rorke’s point soon after left Na Fianna in deep trouble as they trailed by 4-23 to 2-25 by the mini-interval.
Fittingly, it was Hayes that left a strong impression on the game as he converted a brace of frees to leave his team in an unassailable position and while Na Fianna chased forlornly for goals, they never looked likely to pierce the by-now heavily manned Crokes rearguard.
Hayes took his personal tally to 1-14 by the end with a sumptuous point late on, prompting wild celebrations as Crokes secured their first title since 2014, ending a run of three final defeats in the intervening years.
Scorers - Kilmacud Crokes: R Hayes 1-14 (0-8f, 0-1 ’65), O O’Rorke 1-3, A Considine, F Whitely 1-1 each, C Conway 0-3, L McMullan 0-2, D Purcell, D Crowe 0-1 each. Na Fianna: D Burke 2-7 (1-0 pen, 0-6f), S Currie 0-8 (0-1 sideline), M Murphy, AJ Murphy 0-2 each, S Barrett, P Feeney, P O’Dea, L Rushe, C Currie, K Burke 0-1 each.
Kilmacud Crokes: E Gibbons; D Crowe, B Sheehy, M Grogan; P Linehan, B O’Carroll, C Mac Gabhann; L McMullan, D Mulligan; C Conway, F Whitely, D Purcell; O O’Rorke, R Hayes, A Considine. Subs: M Howard for Purcell (41), S Veale for Conway (47), C Ó Cathasaigh for Mac Gabhann (51), J Clinton for O’Carroll (61), Purcell for Whitely (71), J Dillon for Considine (76).
Na Fianna: J Treacy; S Burke, K Burke, S Baxter; D Ryan, L Rushe, P O’Dea; F Breathnach, P Feeney; M Murphy, D Burke, S Barrett; S Currie, AJ Murphy, C Currie. Subs: C McHugh for Baxter (40), M Quilty for Feeney (49), C Kelly for S Burke (49), E McHugh for AJ Murphy (57), H Fenlon for O’Dea (60), K Murphy for M Murphy (67), S Ryan for C Currie (70).
Referee: Chris Mooney (St Patrick’s Palmerstown).
Managers - Kilmacud Crokes: Donal McGovern, Kieran Dowling. Na Fianna: Niall Ó Ceallacháin.
Wides - Kilmacud Crokes: 13 (4+5+4)
Na Fianna: 13 (5+4+4)
Conditions: A calm and still evening.
Player of the Game: Ronan Hayes (Kilmacud Crokes)