Wolfe Tones (Meath)1-9 – Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin) 1-13
Paul Mannion will be back at Croke Park on December 18, but in the colours of Kilmacud Crokes after firing the Dublin champions through to the AIB Leinster club SFC semi-finals.
The six-time All-Ireland winner, who declined to play for Dublin in 2021, underlined his star quality once again with six points and a defence splitting pass for his team’s only goal.
Ben Shovlin scored that goal in the 15th minute but it was Mannion who provided the inspirational moments for the Stillorgan outfit who will play Portarlington in the provincial semi-finals on Saturday week, both of which take place at Croke Park.
This wasn’t a Crokes performance that will strike fear into the Laois side though with Robbie Brennan’s outfit doing just about enough to advance.
They burst into a five-point lead early on but were reeled back in by a determined Tones outfit that were rocked by the sending off of talisman Cian Ward just after the second water break.
Three of Mannion’s points came in the last 10 minutes or so and helped to finally see off Micheal McDermott’s Tones who had previously claimed their first Meath title since 2006.
Tones hadn’t played a competitive game since that Meath final on November 7 – a fortnight earlier than the Dublin decider – which perhaps explained their slow start.
Padraic Diamond did open the scoring for the Kilberry outfit but they didn’t score again until the 18th minute.
In the meantime, Crokes racked up the scores themselves with an unanswered 1-3 between the fifth and 15th minutes to take firm control of the game.
Cian Ward, who’d earlier miscued a close range free, belatedly got among the points, but the score that really pulled Tones back was Cian O’Neill’s 18th minute goal.
Ward was also involved in that, accepting a pass from the hard working Thomas O’Reilly on the right and holding his composure to pick out the onrushing O’Neill with a precise pass across goals, leaving a simple palm in.
Fox and Mannion countered with points for Crokes to leave the visitors 1-5 to 1-3 ahead at half-time but it was a genuine contest again and Tones would have the stiff wind behind them in the second half.
Crokes were brighter in the third quarter and three points in a row from goalkeeper Conor Ferris, Mannion and Craig Dias nudged them five clear but they were made to fight all the way.
Meanwhile, Crokes’ hurlers will continue their Leinster SHC campaign when they take on Laois champions Clough-Ballacolla in Portlaoise on Saturday evening, a game that will be screened live on RTE sport from 6pm.
Kilmacud Crokes’ Ben Shovlin shoots past Stephen Sheppard and Wolfe Tones goalkeeper Cian Farnan during his side’s Leinster Club SFC quarter-final win over Meath’s Wolfe Tones. Photo: Ray McManus/Sportsfile
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