Kilmacud Crokes 3-9
KILMACUD CROKES WILL face Kilcoo in the AIB All-Ireland senior club football final in a fortnight’s time as a strong finish helped them overcome the challenge of first-time semi-finalists Pádraig Pearses at Kingspan Breffni Park.
Crokes fired over the final five points of the game after a strong third quarter from the Roscommon side left them well-positioned to challenge before the late flurry of scores.
On four separate occasions, Pádraig Pearses cut their deficit back to a point in the second half but every time Kilmacud Crokes were able to conjure a response.
The Dublin side are now just a win away from lifting their third All Ireland crown after showing admirable resilience in a fiery encounter.
Paul Carey and Niall Daly scores for Pearses helped cut their three-point half-time deficit back to the minimum but both times Crokes found the score they craved.
In a tense second half, these well-matched sides traded blows as Tom Butler reduced his side’s deficit to the minimum again but the impressive Shane Horan found the target for the Leinster champions.
A Hubert Darcy score in the 47th minute helped Pearses slash their arrears to a point once more but Paul Carey missed a 45 metre free to level the contest.
This proved to be the last chance for Pearses to mount a comeback as Kilmacud Crokes’ bench made a notable impact. Substitute Cian O’Connor fired over twice before Conor Casey moved the gap out to four, while O’Connor’s burst of pace and Casey’s high fielding ability were also crucial ingredients in the later stages of the contest.
Goalscorer Craig Dias tapped over before Anthony Quinn made sure of the win as Kilmacud Crokes will make the short trip to GAA HQ.
It was Pádraig Pearses who started the quicker with Niall Daly firing over inside the opening 60 seconds. However, despite Kilmacud Crokes enjoying limited possession in the opening stages of this contest, they created the all-important score in the eighth minute.
The Dublin side showed their patience in maintaining control of possession before Hugh Kenny fed Shane Horan, who duly found the onrushing Craig Dias. The midfielder coolly slotted the ball between the legs of the onrushing Pearses goalkeeper Paul Whelan.
Despite Paul Carey tapping over for the Connacht champions, there was a sense that Kilmacud Crokes were getting on top.
They held Pearses scoreless for 22 minutes after Carey’s free as their defence frequently cut out any threat with a minimum of fuss.
Hubert Darcy was turned over deep in Crokes territory and the Leinster champions countered at great speed as Dara Mullen fired over.
And Crokes dominated to the end to book their place in the final.
Hubert Darcy of Pádraig Pearse’s is tackled by Andrew McGowan, (right) and Ben Shovlin of Kilmacud Crokes . Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile