Defending champions Kilmacud Crokes progressed to the semi-final stage of the Go Ahead Dublin Senior One Football Championship with a hard-earned 0-14 to 1-9 triumph over Cuala at Parnell Park on Saturday. By Daire Walsh
One point adrift (1-8 to 0-10) inside the final-quarter following a goal from opposition attacker Niall O’Callaghan, Crokes held their composure to eventually see off the challenge of Austin O’Malley’s Dalkey men.
Back-to-back winners of the competition in 2004 and 2005, the Stillorgan club will be seeking to emulate this feat in the coming weeks.
Cuala themselves had collected successive Senior Two Championship crowns in the past two seasons and opened their account in this game through Dublin senior attacker Con O’Callaghan – after Paul Mannion and marauding corner-back Dan O’Brien had found the range for Crokes.
A Dara Mullin effort had helped the title holders – who also claimed Leinster glory in 2021 – to regain their two-point advantage, before Luke Keating and Con O’Callaghan got Cuala back on level terms.
Despite leaking additional scores to the ever-lively Craig Dias and Mannion, the challengers hit a purple patch in attack.
Cuala failed to register a single wide in the opening period and with Niall James, Keating and Con O’Callaghan all finding the range, they moved into the ascendancy for the first time on 21 minutes. Conor Mullally proceeded to cancel out Mannion’s third point of the contest, but Crokes ultimately brought a slender 0-8 to 0-7 buffer into the interval.
Having missed a couple of earlier strikes at goal, Galway star Shane Walsh (making his first start for Robbie Brennan’s charges) knocked over a brace of frees for Kilmacud.
He added to his personal tally with a perfectly-executed mark on the resumption, though Con O’Callaghan – who was recently nominated for an All Star alongside Walsh – was quick to respond at the opposite end.
Mansion posted a score off his right foot, before going down with an ankle injury that eventually led to him being withdrawn.
While he was receiving treatment, Cuala went up the other end of the pitch and Niall O’Callaghan toe poked home for a three-pointer on 46 minutes, but Crokes powered home to victory in the end.
In the curtain-raiser at Parnell on Saturday, 14-man Na Fianna held off a spirited display from local rivals Whitehall Colmcille by the slenderest of margins (1-12 to 1-11).
Their opponents in the last-four will be Ballyboden St Enda’s, who secured a 3-15 to 3-10 victory at the expense of Ballinteer St John’s on Sunday.
Meanwhile, 2019 finalists Thomas Davis completed the semi-final line-up with a comprehensive 1-12 to 0-5 win over Castleknock in the second game at Parnell Park on Sunday.
In the relegation play-offs, Raheny retained their top-tier status with a 1-11 to 0-9 success over Clontarf at St Margaret’s while Skerries Harps beat Round Tower Lusk a day earlier at Clann Mhuire GFC.
and secured a convincing 4-11 to 1-8 victory to bring a satisfactory conclusion to their championship campaign.
Cormac Costello in action for Whitehall against Na Fianna (main) and (inset) Con O’Callaghan leaves the field after Cuala’s loss to Crokes.
Photos: Paul Lundy & Niall O’Connell
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