Crokes Under-21s’ Christmas cheer

by Gazette Reporter
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KILMACUD Crokes enjoyed some extra festive cheer as their Under-21 footballers became the last champions of 2016, winning out in the A championship final on the Tuesday before Christmas.
It meant they retained the title, defeating Ballymun Kickhams 0-12 to 0-6 in a wet and windy St Finian’s, Newcastle.
Crokes led 0-5 to 0-4 at the break having playing into the wind and extended their advantage to 0-7 to 0-4 inside six minutes of the restart following points from the impressive duo of Callum Pearson and Cian O’Connor.
However, Ballymun rallied back with scores from Paddy Small and Colm Hulton to cut the gap to the minimum, 0-7 to 0-6, with eight minutes of normal time remaining.
The Mun had enjoyed a period of dominance in the middle sector at this stage with Aaron Elliott holding sway at centre-field but Crokes showed good mettle to respond over the conclusion of this well-contested battle to run out six-point victors.
However, full-back Sam Daly protected the danger zone to telling effect while, behind, him Conor Creasey dealt with any loose ball.
Good play by Cillian O’Shea, one of Crokes most influential players on the night, set up an opportunity which O’Connor converted to break Kickhams’ momentum.
Tom Fox’s excellent point, after Conor Kelly did well to retrieve a ball that looked like it might run out of play, saw Crokes go 0-9 to 0-6 clear.
The last three points of the game all came from the trusty left boot of Pearson, two coming from play, to see his side to victory.
In the opening half, the lively Ryan Swan gave Ballymun an early lead before Cian O’Connor brought the sides level in the sixth minute.
Further points from Conor Kelly and a Pearson free edged Crokes 0-3 to 0-1 clear in the difficult conditions.
Colm Hulton led by example up front by dragging Paddy Christie’s side back into the game with three points in succession (including three frees) to push his side a point in front, 0-4 to 0-3, by the 20th minute.
But crucially Crokes finished the half on the up with scores from Conor Kelly and O’Connor.

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