A hat-trick of goals from AJ Murphy proved telling as Na Fianna for the better of holders Kilmacud Crokes by 4-15 to 1-22 in their absorbing Go Ahead Dublin Senior 1 Hurling Championship quarter-final at Parnell Park on Sunday afternoon.
It was Na Fianna that seized the initiative in the opening quarter as points from Sean Currie and AJ Murphy nullified scores at the opposite end by Dara Purcell and Fergal Whitely.
The contest turned in their favour by the 14th minute as Colin Currie and Ciaran Stacey combined to release Murphy, who made light of the tight angle when firing powerfully past Eddie Gibbons.
The holders replied through points by Purcell, Whitely and Conal Ó Riain but they lacked fluency and power up front as their opponents coped admirably with some sporadic counter-attacks.
Colin Currie and Sean Currie added to the Na Fianna lead as the half evolved and they finished the half in the best possible manner as Shane Barrett burst forward through the middle with his powerful shot across Gibbons leaving his side 2-8 to 0-7 ahead by half-time.
Slowly but surely, Kilmacud trimmed their deficit with Oisin O’Rorke scoring five second-half points but Murphy’s second goal at the end of the third quarter helped stem the Crokes momentum.
However, Kilmacud regrouped for one final push and three points from substitute Ronan Hayes brought the teams level as we entered injury time.
Na Fianna saw some cohesion return to their play is those crucial final moments as Sean Baxter and Murphy edged them two points clear before the latter pounced for his third goal, with Hayes’ strike at the opposite end arriving too late to spare Kilmacud their fate.
Earlier in the day, Ballyboden St Enda’s confirmed their place in the last four as they defeated Cuala by 2-25 to 1-21.
The bulk of the damage was done in a dominant first-half showing that saw Paul Ryan and Pearce Christie net in the 13th and 17th minutes respectively with the latter adding five frees to enhance his team’s position.
Both Kevin Desmond and Shane Durkin chipped in with two points apiece and while Liam Murphy launched a mini Cuala revival before the break with a trio of scores, the Dalkey side still faced a significant 2-13 to 0-10 interval deficit.
Murphy, Con O’Callaghan and influential substitute Jamie Conroy brought Cuala back into the mix early in the second-half with goalkeeper Sean Brennan also catching the eye with three excellent saves.
An excellent goal from Colm Cronin added further fuel to the Cuala challenge in the 50th minute as they trailed by just five points but that crucial second goal proved elusive as St Enda’s regained their authority thanks to late points from Ryan, who finished with 1-11, and sub Eoin Behan.
Away from ultimate glory, Whitehall Colmcille confirmed their Senior 1 status for 2024 as they defeated Faughs by 1-19 to 0-17 in their relegation play-off at O’Toole Park.
Eoghan O’Donnell (inset) scored the decisive goal for Whitehall.
Whitehall will be joined in the top flight next year by a St Brigid’s team that pipped near neighbours St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh by 2-18 to 1-20.
Na Fianna’s AJ Murphy bagged a hat-trick as his side toppled champions Kilmacud
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