Thomas Davis had already claimed the scalps of 2021 finalists St Jude’s (in the group stages) and Castleknock en route to the penultimate rounds and had their sights set on toppling title holders Kilmacud at Parnell Park on Saturday.
It didn’t take long to outline their credentials with an opening point from Gavin Carruth being swiftly followed by a Fionn Murray goal in the fourth-minute.
Roared on by their passionate home supporters – who had come out in their droves to see their senior ladies team take on Crokes in a championship showpiece at Parnell just nine days earlier – the Tallaght outfit were seeking a return to a senior final for the first time in three years. History was on Davis’ side to an extent as it was Kilmacud they defeated in the 2019 semi-final.
There has been considerable change to both squads in the intervening period, epitomised by the fact that current Davis’ manager Ciaran Farrelly was one of their goalscorer in that 2-12 to 1-10 victory. Shane Cunningham featured in that game and he curled between the posts on nine minutes to supplement an earlier score from roving defender Dan O’Brien.
Although Paul Mannion was ruled out with an injury he picked up in Crokes’ last-eight win against Cuala, Galway footballer Shane Walsh was on hand to make his second start for the club. Either side of the first-quarter mark, he converted points from place-balls – three frees and one ’45’ – to edge Crokes into the driving seat.
His first from play was to follow in the 29th-minute, moments after Dara Mullin had added his name to the scoresheet, but Conor Guilfoyle ended a lengthy barren spell for Davis’ with a point in the 32nd-minute of the opening period.
This left Davis’ three points in arrears (0-8 to 1-2) at the break and when Dublin senior hurler Davy Keogh split the uprights at the end of an outstanding solo run 11 minutes after the resumption, they looked set to pose a major obstacle for Crokes in their quest for a third final appearance in five years.
Crokes methodically went about their business, however, and another two-point salvo by Walsh gave them some extra breathing space. The dismissal of midfielder Ryan Deegan left Davis’ with a mountain to climb in the closing stages, though their industry couldn’t be questioned at any point.Nonetheless, Walsh brought his personal haul to 0-8 with a sublime effort from play and substitute Cian O’Connor also chipped over a fine score in stoppage-time to seal Crokes’ place in a mouthwatering Senior One showcase.
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