The truth of the maxim “goals win games” was proven during the fifty fourth and fifty fifth minutes on Sunday 15th November 2009 in the Dublin Minor “A” Championship Final as majors from Sean McGrath and Jude Sweeney turned a two point advantage into an eight point lead.
Up to then, on a Sunny morning, Crokes had found it difficult to shake off the opposition on a little heavy but well presented Parnell Park sod. The Marino team opened with the aid of the somewhat cross field breeze. Crokes were first on the offensive only to register a wide. In the fifth minute a long Vincents free was finished to the net. The Kilmacud lads had two more wides before a Jude Sweeney point settled the nerves four minutes later. By minute eleven Vins were a goal to the good and then extended the lead with a superb over from a 55 metre sideline. Sean McGrath’s fourteenth minute free brought it back to three.
By now Crokes had made a number of positional changes in attack that saw the half forward line completely re-jigged to now read McGrath, Eddie O’Byrne and Bill O’Carroll. The moves paid dividends and an eighteenth minute two part cameo demonstrated much of what distinguishes this Crokes side. First a determined McGrath drove at the Vincents defence admirably shipping a number of tackles. A free ensued just outside the 20 metre line. Rather than take the tap over McGrath fed the waiting Sweeney. While the latter’s shot flashed over the bar the move’s inventiveness was impressive. A minute later Killian Doherty split the posts and then McGrath levelled at 0-5 to 1-2 from a 20 metre placed ball. Vincents attacked and only a splendid diving save from Eoin Dalton kept the Crokes goal intact. The ball was cleared but loose marking presented Vincents with the opportunity to lead again. The sides then exchanged wides before McGrath’s 60 metre free ended the first half scoring at 0-6 to 1-3 in the twenty eight minute.
The ball crossed the Crokes end line twice without troubling the scorekeeper in the opening sixth minutes of the second instalment before McGrath put the Kilmacud team ahead for the first time from a 20 metre free. Two minutes later a superb point off his left from O’Carroll 45 metres out on the left wing made it 0-8 to 1-3. In the forty first minute a Vins free reduced the margin to one and two minutes further on a replication restored parity. McGrath converted a 65 to make it 0-9 to 1-5 on the three quarter mark. It took eight minutes for another score, a point from a 20 metre by McGrath. In the meantime Crokes recorded three wides to one for the northsiders and what was to prove a significant swop that saw McGrath move to corner and Naomhan O’Riordain to wing forward took place.
Now came the game deciding moment. O’Carroll won the ball and delivered a good pass to O’Byrne. The number 12’s shot was short but spilled by the Vincents net minder. Result – goal by McGrath. From the puck out the ball was played back in. Persistence in the left corner by McGrath won the ball. Vision picked out Sweeney on the edge of the square – goal number 2 and 2-10 to 1-5. A Crokes wide the presaged a puck out win by O’Carroll who found McGrath. A catch, swivel and shot and there were nine points in the game with five minutes left to play. Three minutes later a Vincents forward managed to kick to the net and sixty seconds into injury time a minor further reduced the margin. That was effectively the end of the action as shortly after the long whistle blew with Kilmacud Crokes Dublin minor hurling champions for the twelfth* time on a 2-11 to 2-6 scoreline.
This was a deserved but hard earned victory that was in the melting pot for fifty five minutes. Throughout goalkeeper Dalton could not be faulted while outside him the full back trio of Enda Grogan, Sean Murphy and Paul Collins provided good cover. Jack Doughan anchored the half line, well supported by wing men Darren McVeigh and Alan Carr. At centre field Barry Mulligan and Killian Doherty covered swathes of ground. Apart from the outstanding McGrath, O’Carroll and Sweeney, up front Eddie O’Byrne kept a good centre back quite when moved to the 50, Matthew Kinsella got through a lot of industrious work and Mark O’Dwyer was always threatening. Naomhan O’Riordain and Dylan Mulligan brought fresh legs and a different dimension when introduced while Hugh Byrne, who has had an impressive season and Cian O’Brien proved valuable assets.
Congratulations are also due to the other members of the panel, all of whom played their part and to the parents and families of all concerned. Especial mention must be made of team manager Pat Halpin who has now guided this group to championship victories at under 14, 15, 16 and 18 level as well as to the 2005 National Feile na nGael. Well done as well to the other members of the management team and to all who helped along the way as this squad developed.
Team: Eoin Dalton, Enda Grogan, Sean Murphy, Paul Collins, Darren McVeigh, Jack Doughan, Alan Carr, Killian Doherty (0-1), Barry Mulligan, Matthew Kinsella, Bill O’Carroll (capt.) (0-1), Eddie O’Byrne, Mark O’Dwyer, Jude Sweeney (1-2), Sean McGrath (1-7, f-5, 65-1). Subs: Naomhan O’Riordain for M Kinsella (45 mins), Dylan Mulligan for M O’Dwyer (52 mins), Hugh Byrne for J Sweeney (59 mins), Cian O’Brien for D McVeigh (59 mins), Peter McCague, Brian McHenry, Brendan Halpin, Steven Beale, Jonathon Healy-Hayes, Sean Garvey, Karl Russell, Gary Melican, James O’Keeffe, Thomas Clarke, Louis Whelan, Ken Kelly and John Huban.
Management: Pat Halpin (manager), Daithi de Paor, Tom Murphy, Kevin Coakley, Peter Walsh and Kieran Dowling.
For the historically minded:
Crokes Park United – 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932 and 1933. Claim can also be made for a title in 1928 but this requires more research
Crokes Hurling Club – 1934 and 1935.
Dalcassians – 1960.
Kilmacud Crokes, 1985, 1998, 2007 and 2009.
To see images of the match click on the camera above. To see a short video clip of both Crokes' goals click on the video camera above.