Monday 18 December 2017

Gritty Crokes battle back to leave Brigid's shellshocked

Dublin SFC semi-finals

Kilmacud Crokes and Ballymun Kickhams advanced to the final after respective semi-final wins over St Brigid's and St Jude's at Parnell Park.

The opening fixture in the double-header saw Kilmacud produce an inspired comeback in dethroning county champions St Brigid's, with goals early in the second half from Pat Burke and Cian O'Sullivan pivotal in their 2-18 to 2-12 victory.

Despite starting brightly through early scores from Paul Mannion and Darren Magee, Crokes struggled with the vibrancy of the Brigid's attack and found themselves in arrears courtesy of Paddy Andrews, Kevin Bonner and Barry Cahill.

Although they briefly regained the initiative through points from the excellent Adrian Morrissey, Mannion and Mark Vaughan, their defensive travails were reflected by the concession of a 14th-minute goal by Craig Kilmurray. Within two minutes, Andrews had impishly found the net following a glorious delivery by Bonner.

Kilmacud trailed by eight points at the interval, with O'Loughlin adding a brace of fine points late in the half. However, an early Mannion point kick-started the Crokes revival, with Burke's goal in the 33rd minute leaving just four points between the sides.

That gap was reduced to just one when Cian O'Sullivan availed of a deflection to fire beyond the unsighted Shane Supple, and points from Morrissey, Craig Dias and Mannion left Kilmacud in the driving seat.

Although Darcy and Cian Mullins replied for Brigid's, it proved too little too late as two scores from sub Barry O'Rorke saw the Stillorgan men home.

The second semi-final was a far more straightforward affair, with Ballymun comfortably accounting for St Jude's by 1-16 to 1-7 to claim their first final berth since 1989.

A brace of points apiece from Dean Rock, Ted Furman and Kevin Leahy handed Kickhams the initiative, but a 29th-minute penalty by Declan Donnelly kept Jude's in touch at 0-10 to 1-4 at half-time.

Despite a point by Ronan Joyce on the restart, Jude's struggled after that with Furman's 43rd-minute goal and late points by Leahy and Derek Byrne sealing Kickhams' victory.

Irish Independent

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