Substitute strikes late for resilient Stillorgan men to deny St Jude’s in decider
Dublin SFC1 Final
Callum Pearson etched his name in Kilmacud Crokes folklore by kicking the winning point in their Dublin Senior One Football Championship triumph over St Jude’s at Parnell Park on Sunday.
Having worked their way back from a five-point deficit early in the second half, Robbie Brennan’s charges looked destined to battle it out with their fellow southsiders in two periods of extra time. This would have been a case of deja vu for the Crokes faithful, who saw their small ball side eventually emerging victorious against Na Fianna in the Dublin Senior Hurling Championship decider eight days earlier after initially being inseparable at the end of 60 minutes.
However, having been introduced as a second-half substitute, Pearson fired over from a tight angle, deep into stoppage-time, to ensure his side came away with their ninth final success at this grade. Not only did this complete a senior championship double for the club, but it also added nicely to the Dublin Minor ‘A’ Football Championship crown they accrued on the previous weekend.
Former Sky Blues footballer Paul Mannion registered four points for the winners in an influential display, while Pearson’s late intervention meant the Crokes bench finished with a combined haul of 1-2. Jude’s had been in a strong position to secure a maiden SFC title for large stretches, with Alan Connolly, David Mannix and midfield colossus Colm Murphy doing their bit for the cause.
It may have ended in a third final defeat for the Templeogue outfit, but there is no reason why Jude’s can’t remain in the shake-up when the 2022 championship comes around.
After both sides had convincingly progressed to this stage of the competition – setting up a rematch of the 2018 showpiece – this was quite rightly billed as a mouthwatering encounter. Crokes looked set to enjoy a dream start to the action, only for veteran Jude’s netminder Paul Copeland to turn away Dara Mullin’s goal-bound strike in the third minute.
Yet this was by far the standout moment of an opening quarter that – quite remarkably – didn’t yield a single score. Jude’s established a foothold in the Crokes half for long spells, but were frequently turned over before they could get in a position to shoot.
Mannion and Tom Fox went close to raising white flags at the far end of the Donnycarney pitch, but the deadlock was unbroken at the first-half water break. Although it was very difficult to gauge who was going to draw first blood, it was Jude’s who finally created some daylight in the 23rd minute.
Racing onto a lay-off from eight-time All-Ireland winner Kevin McManamon, inside forward Connolly rattled the Crokes net with considerable aplomb. In response to this setback, Kilmacud got their account up and running courtesy of a trademark Mannion point.
Before Connolly had taken matters into his own hands, Murphy – who caught a series of kick-outs over the course of the proceedings – almost grabbed a goal of his own. Wing-forward Daragh Kavanagh almost bagged another three-pointer at the end of the half, but his fierce effort was tipped over the bar by Crokes custodian Conor Ferris.
This left Jude’s 1-1 to 0-1 in front at the end of the opening period. While it went down as an instantly forgettable half of football for neutrals, Gareth Roche’s men found themselves in a position they would have happily taken beforehand.
Indeed, a groundbreaking win moved a step closer to becoming a reality on the resumption when Mannix and Connolly both found the target in quick succession. Outside of Mannion, who was doing his best to inject pace into their play, Crokes were struggling to make an impact in attack.
It wasn’t until the 38th minute that they added their second point of the game and it required a free from goalkeeper Ferris for the 2009 All-Ireland winners to double their tally. Even though Kerry native Mannix – one of six non-Dubliners in the Jude’s starting 15 – kicked another score from long-range, the Crokes challenge was starting to rise.
While they had a penalty overturned following consultation between referee Dave Feeney and his umpires, Mannion’s routine free left them within touching distance (1-4 to 0-3) moving into the final quarter. The three-time All Star’s impact on the game was becoming more pronounced with each passing minute and two points on the bounce by the star forward ramped up the pressure on Jude’s.
Crokes now sensed the game was potentially there for the taking and this was the cue for Cian O’Connor to leave his imprint on the contest. Originally named to start in the match programme, he was introduced for Fox on 43 minutes.
Despite having the option to bring it back for a free, Feeney allowed the versatile O’Connor an advantage and he made no mistake with a majestic finish to the net in the 51st minute. This put Jude’s in arrears for the very first time and asked serious questions of their resolve.
To their credit, they showed plenty of character during this juncture and proceeded to turn the game on its head once again. Supplementing a Mannix free, substitute Brian Coakley, who had replaced his brother Niall, converted a 45 to edge the Wellington Lane side back into the ascendancy with three minutes of normal time left to play.
Crokes were now in real danger of suffering a county final reversal for the first time since 2012, but Aidan Jones crept forward in stoppage time to kick an equalising point. Then, just as extra time appeared imminent, the same player released Pearson for a the game’s decisive score in the 64th minute of play.
Although Jude’s were afforded an opportunity to manufacture a dramatic leveller, the Crokes rearguard dug deep to turn them over and ultimately come away with a narrow victory.
Scorers - Kilmacud Crokes: P Mannion 0-4 (2f), C O’Connor 1-0, C Ferris (f), A Jones, C Pearson 0-1 each. St Jude’s: A Connolly 1-1, D Mannix 0-3 (1f), B Coakley (f), D Kavanagh 0-1 each.
KILMACUD CROKES: C Ferris; M Mullin, D O’Brien, R McGowan; A McGowan, C O’Shea, R O’Carroll; B Shovlin, C Dias; T Fox, D Mullin, S Horan; P Mannion, S Cunningham, H Kenny. Subs: C O’Connor for Fox (43), C Casey for Shovlin (46), C Pearson for Kenny (50), A Jones for O’Carroll (53).
ST JUDE’S: P Copeland; O Manning, J McGuire, A Hassett; M Sweeney, C Guckian, T Lahiff; C Murphy, P Spillane; D Sheehy, K McManamon, D Kavanagh; N Coakley, D Mannix, A Connolly. Subs: D McLoughlin for Kavanagh (37), R Joyce for Sheehy (50), B Coakley for N Coakley, R Martina for Manning (both 53), S Ryan for Murphy (60).
MENTORS - Kilmacud Crokes: Robbie Brennan, Vinny Mooney, Ronan Ryan, Fionan Kennedy. St Jude’s: Gareth Roche, Gerry Carty, Shane Guckian, Kevin Downes, Warren Linnie, Niall Broderick.
REFEREE: Dave Feeney (Parnell’s).
WIDES - Kilmacud Crokes: 5 (3+2). St Jude’s: 2 (2+0).
CONDITIONS: Sunny for large spells, but chilly throughout.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Colm Murphy (St Jude’s).