Minor A's beat Cuala to reach Final!
Extra time required to overcome Cuala fightback
Kilmacud Crokes Minor A's had to dig deep to overcome their great rivals, Cuala, in a pulsating championship semi-final played on a very windy pitch in Shanganagh. A game of two halves this really was, with extra time needed to decide the issue. Crokes played with whatever benefit was to be got from the mostly cross-field wind in the first half; the early exchanges showed them going about their task with real intent. Mikey O’Dwyer was unfortunate to pick up an early shoulder injury after a typically wholehearted challenge and was replaced by Ed Campion. Crokes were first to the ball throughout the field and delivered it quickly. Cian Mac Gabhann had a point after three minutes and minutes later Alex Considine had the ball in the net, only to be called back for a free, which Cian Mac Gabhann drove to the net. Cuala were finding it difficult to get into the game and the Crokes defence had a firm grip on the proceedings. Mark O’Loughlin was winning good ball in the full-forward line and was fouled for a penalty, which Cian put away. Five minutes later Mark caught a long delivery from Eamon Allen, turned and found the corner of the net. Cuala missed a couple of scorable frees, while Crokes scored another couple of points through Cian (frees and 65) and Dara Ó Gallchobhair. The score at half-time read Crokes 3-04, Cuala 0-02.
The second half was a different affair altogether. Cuala raised their game considerably and really began to take the game to Crokes. They re-arranged their forward formation and came at Crokes in wave after wave - and were rewarded with a number of close-in frees, which they duly converted. A goal from a penalty half-way through by goalie Seán Brennan swung the game firmly in Cuala’s favour. Another from play a few minutes later had the game in the balance. The difference was now back to two points, when Feargal Whitely lifted the siege after twenty minutes, with a great point from play. It was nip and tuck from there until the end. Cuala scored two more frees and Stevie O'Dwyer had another point for Crokes, which left just one point in it, as Cuala bore down on goal and were given a penalty with the last puck of normal time. Seán Treacy opted to go for the levelling score and send the game to extra time.
Tired limbs took to the field for another twenty minutes and it was Crokes who stood firm in the heat of those final frantic moments, as both sides tried valiantly to wrest victory from the other. Points from play by Dara Ó Gallchobhair and from frees by Mark O’Loughlin and Cian MacGabhann, against a solitary point by Cuala, meant Crokes finally got over the line.
The final score read Crokes 3-10, Cuala 2-11. The lads showed great character in coming through this ordeal and yet they know they will need to intensify their efforts even further if they are to gain the ultimate prize against Ballyboden in the county final on 10th November.
Team: Tadhg Murphy, Mikey O’Dywer, Donncha Ó Murchú, Cillian O’Shea, Mark McCallion, Odhrán Ó Siochrú, Éamon Allen, Cian Mac Gabhann (2-04, 2-02f,65) Ronan Horgan, Donal Keane, Ciarán McIntyre, Feargal Whitley (0-01), Alex Considine, Mark O’Loughlin (1-02), Dara Ó Gallchobhair (0-02).
Subs: Ed Campion for Mikey O’Dwyer (inj), Michael Crowley for Alex Considine, Stevie O’Dwyer (0-01) for Ed Campion, Campion for Dónal Keane, Keane for Campion (inj), Mark O’Rourke.
Report by Joe Ó Murchú
Photos by Diarmuid Ó Gallchobhair