Fox force five

by Gazette Reporter

DLGFA Senior Championship Final
Foxrock Cabinteely 2-13
Kilmacud Crokes 3-8
By Daire Walsh

FOXROCK Cabinteely’s own drive for five went all the way to extra time before they just about prevailed against neighbours Kilmacud Crokes to remain the county queens at Parnell Park.

It was heart-stopping throughout. Molly Lamb converted penalties in each half of normal time for Crokes, the second sending the game into extra time.

The prospect of a draw at the end of 80 minutes loomed large, until Amy Connolly stepped up to the mark with a brace of points to seize the day for Foxrock.

Both teams had to deal with short turnarounds, coming through semi-final encounters at Bray Emmet’s the Monday before – Crokes were convincing winners against St Sylvester’s, Foxrock overcame an early deficit to squeeze past Thomas Davis.

On a dirty, rainy night in Parnell, there was a ferocious pace and intensity to the final. After Foxrock inside forward Jodi Egan fired over at a tight-angle, Crokes immediately responded through the influential Michelle Davoren.

Following a lung-bursting break, Foxrock midfielder Laura Nerney added her name to the scoresheet. Nevertheless, their Stillorgan counterparts were hell-bent on making the most of their first appearance on this stage.

The probing Davoren released Rutledge on goal and she displayed remarkable composure to fire beyond the reach of Aoife Tarpey for the opening goal. They subsequently extended their lead with a pointed Rutledge free. As expected, Foxrock found their feet as the action progressed.

The industrious Connolly raised a white flag from a tight-angle and, having capitalised on approach work from Amy Ring and Aisling Murphy, Egan kicked to an empty net on 18 minutes. However, the holders suffered a set-back moments later, when Murphy was yellow-carded.

In her absence, they suffered a fresh blow when a foul on Julia Buckley led to a Crokes penalty; Lamb dispatched to the net.

This threw down the gauntlet to Foxrock, who were briefly reduced to 13 players as a consequence of Connolly’s sin-binning in the 29th-minute. Yet with Crokes posting five wides during the opening period, they remained in contention.

Indeed, Connolly and Claffey efforts saw Foxrock restore parity in time for the interval (1-5 to 2-2).

Crokes settled on the resumption with another Rutledge free, but the Foxrock challenge kicked into gear.

Full-forward Amy Ring made no mistake with a clinical finish past the stranded Fleming and she quickly added a free; an Egan score put them four clear.

Crokes kept them honest with Laura Kane hitting the side-netting while Davoren and Rutledge continued to fly the flag up front.

But a Connolly free off her trusty left boot, Foxrock moved into a seemingly insurmountable five-point buffer.

Once again, though, Kilmacud displayed incredible resilience. A brace of Rutledge frees left just three points between the teams deep into stoppage-time and, after consulting with his umpires, McNulty subsequently awarded a second penalty to Kilmacud.

The ice-cool Lamb again came up with the goods, ensuring 20 additional minutes would be needed.

Mia Jennings returned to the fray for a six-minute spell – having earlier been substituted – as a blood replacement and rounded off an incisive attack with a fine point on the turn.

Ring had also previously left the field but re-emerged in the nick of time to kick an equalising point.

It kept it level and impossible to predict a winner. Foxrock eventually dug deep to maintain their grip as Connolly’s continued high work-rate around the middle-third and her two-point salvo off placed-balls created some final daylight.

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