Kilmacud Crokes Senior A Hurling County Champions 2021

Date 13 Nov 2021
Home Team       Away Team Na Fianna 2:25 4:26 Kilmacud Crokes
Venue Parnell Park

Senior A Hurling Team win County Championship in dramatic Final.

Match Reports:  

KILMACUD CROKES CLINCH COUNTY TITLE IN EXTRA TIME AFTER THRILLER IN DONNYCARNEY!

KILMACUD CROKES 4-26 NA FIANNA 2-25

(Match Report by Diarmuid Coogan.)

In Parnell Park on Saturday 13th November, arguably the greatest act of larceny in Dublin since the Brinks Allied Robbery in nearby Clonshaugh was carried out!

Having played most of the Hurling in the Dublin Final, Na Fianna & Dublin sharp shooter Donal Burke scored a goal in the 50th minute to extend their lead to 9 points but Kilmacud Crokes produced their greatest ever comeback (in this observer’s memory anyway!) to draw level 6 minutes into injury time.

As often happens in these cases, the team that has equalised has all the momentum in extra time and so it was in this case as Crokes looks like a team re-energised whereas nothing seemed to go right for Na Fianna.

It was fitting that the last Dublin Hurling team to reach an All Ireland Final (1961) were honoured at half time and they were given a very warm reception by the large crowd. It must have been heartening for them to see Dublin Club Hurling so vibrant and some of the players on show yesterday will surely play a part in bringing the current generation of Dublin hurlers to another All Ireland in the years ahead.

Na Fianna were playing in their 1st ever County Hurling Final and were regarded as underdogs but they started off in flying form with Burke hitting a long range free and RTE “Man of the Match” corner forward Seán Currie scoring a monstrous point from his own 65 inside the 1st 2 minutes. (0-2 to 0-0)

Crokes captain Caolan Conway opened their account with an excellent point from the right sideline just inside the 45m line on 5 minutes. (0-2 to 0-1)

Full forward Ronan Hayes followed up with a sweet point from the right on 7 minutes. (0-2 to 0-2)

Crokes then broke quickly following an attack by Na Fianna when corner forward Lorcan McMullen cleared up on his 20m line and played a ball out to wing forward Dara Purcell at half way who then put a clever diagonal pass into Hayes on the right touchline line; Hayes used his speed and strength to evade 2 defenders before handpassing left to corner forward Alex Considine who drove it powerfully into the net after 9 minutes. (0-2 to 1-2)

Na Fianna weren’t fazed by this and O’Donnell and midfielder Michael Murphy replied with 2 excellent points in the following minute. (0-4 to 1-2)

Lorcan McMullan (Crokes) and Na Fianna half forward Shane Barrett traded points before the other Na Fianna corner forward Colin Currie (brother of Seán) ran hard at the Crokes defence and was pulled down in the square. Burke expertly drove the resultant penalty into the bottom left corner to put his side back in front. (NF 1-5 KC 1-3)

Hayes replied with a free for Crokes before Seán Currie hit another excellent point from the left side line on 45 m following great work by Barret.  (FF 1-6 KC 1-4)

Purcell and Currie(S) traded further points to leave Na Fianna 2 points ahead at the water break .(NF 1-7 KC 1-5)

2ND QUARTER.

After the break, Crokes goalie Eddie Gibbons played a long ball into space on the left, centre forward ran on to the ball and “surfed” a tackle before strking the ball over from his “weak side” on the run. (NF 1-7 KC 1-6)

Burke then hit a huge free from his own 45 m line before the experienced Crokes midfielder Oisín O’Rourke opened his account with a well struck point from 40 metres. (NF 1-8 KC 1-7)

Hayes hit a point from the left side to equalise for Crokes on 19 minutes. (1-8 to 1-8)

Currie hit another great point from the left on 20 minutes before Hayes tapped over a free following a foul on O’Rourke. (1-9 to 1-9)

Former All Star Liam Rushe then gave a clever pass to half forward Peter Feeney who hit a great point from ½ way to edge Na Fianna back into the lead. (NF 1-10 KC 1-9)

Gibbons hit a monster puck out which Hayes caught brilliantly on the 20 metre line before quickly passing to Considine to the left of goal. He hit a powerful shot which goalie Jonathan Tracey did very well to deflect over for a point. (1-10 to 1-10)

Currie added a free and another exhibition point from the right touchline  60 metres out.

Gibbons drove the puck out long but Rushe leapt into the air to catch and run on before passing to Murphy who hit a lovely point much to the delight of the Na Fianna supporters on 26 minutes. (NF 1-13 KC 1-10)

Na Fianna were playing all the hurling now and could have been in for a 2nd goal when half back Donal Ryan carried powerfully before passing to Currie who hit a rasper which Gibbons got the slightest touch to deflect over for a point. (NF 1-14 KC 1-10)

Conway hit a neat point from the right in the 1st minute of injury time but Na Fianna full forward AJ Murphy hit a lovely point from the 45 to round off an excellent first half for Na Fianna. (NF 1-15 KC 1-11)

2ND HALF.

McMullan cut the deficit for Crokes in the 31st minute but Na Fianna’s right half back Paul O’Dea hit a massive point from 70 metres on the left. (NF 1-16 KC 1-12)

Currie demonstrated another skill in his repertoire when he put a sideline cut(a la Joe Canning) over from the right. (1-17 to 1-12)

Conway hit a very efficient point after Hayes and McMullen did well to turn over Na Fianna coming out of defence  and Burke followed up with another free. (NF 1-18 KC 1-13)

Hayes pointed a difficult free from the right touchline and added another on 40 minutes to reduce the gap to 3. (NF 1-18 KC 1-15)

Burke and Hayes traded frees before Rushe latched on to a Crokes clearance to strike a great  “team lifting” point from the left to the acclaim of the Na Fianna fans. (NF 1-20 KC 1-16)

From the puck out, Feeney won possession for Na Fianna and put a diagonal ball into AJ Murphy on the 20 metre line who turned and struck a classic  forwards point . (NF 1-21 KC 1-16)

The experienced Marc Howard won possession from the puck out and fed corner back Davy Crowe who hit a fine point from the 45 to keep Crokes in it but Burke punished another Crokes indiscretion to restore the 5 point lead. (NF 1-22 KC 1-17)

Currie then hit his 8th point from 70 metres to give his side a 6 point lead at the water break. (1-23 to 1-17)

4TH QUARTER.

Crokes really needed a quick response after the break but their cause looked lost when AJ Murphy won possession inside the “D” and gave a clever handpass left to the oncoming Donal Burke who let the ball bounce before striking it under the advancing Gibbons to extend the lead to 9 points with only 10 minutes left! (NF 2-23 KC 1-17)

WHITELY LIFELINE.

Gibbons pucked out to the right and following a scramble for possession, O’Rourke launched a high ball which Hayes broke down on the 20 metre line; the defence should have dealt with it but Whitely drove through a few bodies to hit the ball out of the “schimozle” before ground striking to the net to give his supporters something to cheer about! (NF 2-23 KC 2-17)

Tracey pucked out long to the right and Colin Currie scored his 1st point of the day with a great strike from the sideline to give the perfect response to Crokes’ goal on 53 minutes. (NF 2-24 KC 2-17)

PENALTY!

Marc Howard was unlucky to see a long range shot hit the post but from the rebound there was chaos and Na Fianna pulled down sub Shane Veale in the square. Hayes stepped up to take the penalty and hit a ferocious shot which went inches wide much to the disbelief of the Crokes’ faithful.

Crokes responded with grim determination from the puck out and Davy Crowe did very well to win possession on the left touchline before passing to Dillon Mulligan who transferred right to half back Padhraic Linehan who soloed for 30 metres before passing to Howard. Howard was fouled before he could get into a shooting position on the 20 metre line. With some in the crowd shouting at him to go for goal, Hayes ignored the noise and tapped over the free to bring it back to a 6 point & 2 score game. (NF 2-24 KC 2-18)

Crokes continued to attack with only 4 minutes left and after Na Fianna lifted the siege on one such attack, Seán Currie was turned over by Davy Crowe on his 45 metres line. Crowe ran towards goal and committed the defenders before hand passing right to O’Rourke 10 metres from the end line but at an acute angle. O’Rourke used all of his skill and experience to drive an unstoppable shot beyond Tracey with 2 minutes of “normal time left”! (NF 2-24 KC 3-18)

A minute later, Considine attacked from the left and Tracey made a wonderful save and was relieved to see Considine put the rebound wide.

The momentum was now with Crokes but was the clock?

With less than 60 seconds left, it was announced that there would be at least 4 minutes injury time – ample time for Crokes. However some good defending by Na Fianna and stoppages ate into this time.

With 64 minutes, Hayes shot for a point which went inches wide and it looked game up for Crokes. From the puck out, Dillon Mulligan did well to win “dirty ball” and passed to Veale who found Linehan in space on the left on the Na Fianna 65. Linehan soloed in towards goal before off-loading right to Hayes on the 20 metre line. Hayes showed great composure to run back to the left, taking his 4 steps before burying it in the net to tie up the scores in the 6th minute on injury time. (NF 2-24 KC 4-18)

Burke had a final chance to win it for Na Fianna in normal time but it was a very difficult shot from 45 metres with 3 defenders bearing down on him and went wide.

EXTRA TIME.

Na Fianna had their chances in extra time but their “Midas touch” deserted them as several long range efforts which had gone over in normal time were now drifting harmlessly wide. In contrast, Crokes just kept the scoreboard ticking with Hayes and O’Rourke hitting 5 points between them establishing a 4-23 (35) to 2-25(31) by ½ time, full back Kevin Burke scoring Na Fianna’s only point.

In addition, subs Marc Howard, Cian Ó Cathasaigh and Shane Veale gave fresh impetus to the Crokes effort both in the 4th quarter and extra time.

Na Fianna rallied desperately in the 2nd half to try to rescue the title but dogged defence kept them out and Hayes played as if he was enjoying himself with 3 more points to close out the match.

FINAL SCORE KC 4-25 NF 2-25.

At the end, the huge crowd stood to applaud the monumental effort given by both teams.  For Crokes it was “deliverance day”, with many of their players having been narrowly beaten by Cuala in 3 finals(Cuala 2016 & 17 and Ballyboden 2018).

It was  notable to see Marc Howard make an important contribution when he came on as he sustained a very serious injury in the 2018 final which kept him out of action for over a year.

For Na Fianna, it was an almost complete performance in their first final and on the basis of the talent in their team, it won’t be long before they come back and win the title.

 

DUIRT SIAD:

CROKES CAPTAIN Caolan Conway: “I’m completely over the moon, this has been a long time coming especially after the disappointments in 2016,17 & 18. When we went 9 points down, we just stuck to the process and kept working at it and in the end were rewarded.”

CROKES ARD BAINISTEOIR KIERAN DOWLING:  “Even when we were 9 points down, I knew the players had it within them to come back; they just kept contesting every ball and when we ran hard at their defence, it produced the scores that got us back into the game.”

 

CROKES FULL FORWARD RONAN HAYES: ”I’m delighted that we finally got over the line and it’s nice to have something to show for a ll the near misses of recent years.”

When it was pointed out that the penalty miss didn’t seem to affect him, he said: “ You can’t dwell on mistakes, just focus on winning the next ball and taking the next score”! – Sound advice for all walks of life!

 

KILMACUD CROKES: E.Gibbons,D.Crowe,B.Sheehy,M.Grogan,P.Linehan,B.O’Carroll,C.MacGabhann, O.O’Rourke,D.Mulligan,D.Purcell,F.Whitely,C.Conway,L.McMullan,R.Hayes,A.Considine.

Subs:Cian Ó Cathasaigh, S.Veale, M.Howard.

NA_FIANNA: J.Tracey,C.Kelly,K.Burke,S.Baxter,P.O’Dea,L.Rushe,D.Ryan,F.Breathnach,M.Murphy,P.Feeney, D.Burke, S.Barrett, C.Currie, AJ.Murphy, S.Currie.

Sub:M.Quilty for Breathnach.

Scorers: Kilmacud Crokes: Ronan Hayes 1-14 (0-8f, 0-1 ’65), Oisín O’Rorke 1-03, Alex Considine 1-01, Fergal Whitely 1-01, Caolan Conway 0-03, Lorcan McMullan 0-02, Dara Purcell 0-01, Davy Crowe 0-01.

Na Fianna: Dónal Burke 2-07 (0-06f, 1-00 pen), Sean Currie 0-08 (0-01 sideline), Micheál Murphy 0-02, AJ Murphy 0-02, Shane Barrett 0-01, Peter Feeney 0-01, Paul O’Dea 0-01, Liam Rushe 0-01, Colin Currie 0-01, Kevin Burke 0-01


 Photo Credit: Steven Dagg and Edel Uí Ghallchobhair (Glenalbyn)