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2 late red cards mar Ballymun's impressive Dublin semi-final win over Kilmacud

Ballymun Kickhams are back in their first final since 2017.

Ballymun Kickhams 1-18

Kilmacud Crokes 2-12

BALLYMUN KICKHAMS HAD one foot in the final when they almost self-combusted in the closing stages of this entertaining Dublin SFC last four clash. 

james-mccarthy-celebrates-after-the-game-with-john-small James McCarthy celebrates after the game with John Small. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Brendan Hackett’s side were five clear of Kilmacud Crokes after Cathal O’Tighe’s 60th-minute goal when a series of scuffles broke out across the field, resulting in straight red cards for Davey Byrne and Leon Young. 

Jason Whelan of Ballymun and Kilmacud’s Cian O’Connor were also booked for an off-the-ball incident as tempers flared.

With Ballymun down to 13, Dean Rock had a team-mate free inside but opted to shoot for a point, sending it wide from the 21. At the far end, Paul Mannion put a great ball across the area that Pat Burke finished into the net to leave three between the sides.

But Kilmacud’s late charge ended there as a free from Rock – his eighth score of the day – handed Ballymun a deserved three-point victory. 

It was their fifth successive win in the championship and they’ll now come up against holders Ballyboden St Enda’s in the final.

Both Byrne and Young are likely to miss the decider against Ballyboden, though Hackett indicated they would most likely appeal the latter’s red. Byrne’s dismissal was deserved for a strike but it’s unclear what Young was punished for.

This was an attacking game played at a ferocious intensity and pace, although both sides also left plenty of chances behind them. In the final quarter Ballymun’s superior fitness levels and power was evident as they were driven on by John Small, James McCarthy and Cameron McCormack in the middle third.

They also packed a serious punch from the bench, with Jason Whelan (0-2), O’Tighe (1-0) and Dillon Keating (0-1) contributing scores after arriving onto the field.

Paddy Small had a fine dual with Andy McGowan while Rock top-scored despite racking up a handful of wides.

All of Kilmacud’s forwards scored from play yet they relied more on placed balls as the game wore on and eventually ran out of legs. They’d scored just six points in the second-half before Pat Burke’s late goal arrived against Ballymun’s 13 men.

Kilmacud probably needed a greater contribution than 0-3 from Dublin star Paul Mannion. Dara Mullin was their best forward, contributing five points, though the sight of Dublin panellist Dan O’Brien and Offaly’s Shane Horan being taken off midway through the second-half highlighted their attacking struggles. 

Ballymun controlled the final quarter of a game that they looked far more up from the outset.

They pressed aggressively on Conor Ferris’s kick-outs. Goalkeeper Evan Comerford regularly moved up to fill space on the half-back line on his opposite number’s restarts.

The sides were deadlocked at 0-1 apiece when Mannion was fouled in the area after a mazy run. He took the penalty himself but it was well-saved low to his right by Comerford.

Boosted by their reprieve, Ballymun reeled off the next four scores without reply to take a 5-1 lead into the water break. The brief stoppage saw a shift in momentum as Kilmacud took control.

paul-mannion-and-leon-young Paul Mannion takes a shot under pressure from Leon Young. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Dan O’Brien was slipped through by Hugh Kenny and rifled in a superb goal from distance. That filled Kilmacud with confidence and their forwards started to move the ball with speed. Mannion (2), Mullin and Kenny each clipped over efforts to move Crokes 1-5 to 0-5 ahead by the 25th minute. 

Ballymun finished the half on top, adding three quick-fire scores before James McCarthy wad fouled for a penalty. Paddy Small turned over a short kick-out and McCarthy played a one-two with the alert Rock.

McCarthy was unlucky that the referee didn’t play advantage after he was fouled by Ferris but stayed on his feet and finished into the net. Rock’s spot-kick went down the middle and Ferris got his foot to it – diverting the shot over the bar. 

Both sides were guilty of some poor shooting in the third quarter with Mannion and Small guilty of misses for either side. Two good efforts from Rock edged Ballymun back in front and then substitute Whelan stroked over a wonder score off his left in the corner.

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leon-young-receives-a-red-card-from-james-king Leon Young receives a red card from referee James King. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Crokes continued to cause problems up front and Mullin came into the game with two scores (one advanced mark). Ballymun controlled the game in the closing stages. Rock (free) and Whelan added points before Dillon Keating arrived off the bench to kick a fine effort off the outside of the boot.

Ballymun sliced their opponents open for a late goal as Andrew McCaul’s deflected shot landed in the path of fellow sub O’Tighe for a tap-in.

Then, after a frenetic seven minutes of stoppage-time where they conceded a goal and had two men sent off, Ballymun were the team left standing.

Scorers for Ballymun Kickhams: Dean Rock 0-8 (0-1 pen, 0-3f, 0-1m), Paddy Small 0-3 (0-1m), Cathal O’Tighe 1-0, Cameron McCormack and Jason Whelan 0-2, Carl Keeley, John Small and Dillon Keating 0-1 each.

Scorers for Kilmacud Crokes: Dara Mullin 0-5 (0-2m, 0-2f), Paul Mannion 0-3 (0-1f), Dan O’Brien and Pat Burke 1-0 each, Hugh Kenny 0-2 (0-1m), Shane Cunningham and Shane Horan 0-1 each.

Ballymun Kickhams 

1. Evan Comerford

2. Darragh Conlan
3. Eoin Dolan
4. Philly McMahon

5. Carl Keeley
6. John Small
7. Leon Young

8. Aaron Elliot
9. James McCarthy

12. Brian Ashton
11. Davey Byrne
14. Fiach Andrews

13. Paddy Small
10. Cameron McCormack
15. Dean Rock

Subs

21. Jason Whelan for Ashton (37)
18. Dillon Keating for Andrews (37)
22. Cathal O’Tighe for McCormack (59)
25. James Burke for Small (68)

Kilmacud Crokes

1. Conor Ferris

3. Rory O’Carroll
2. Liam Flatman
4. Cillian O’Shea

5. Cian O’Connor
6. Cian O’Sullivan
7. Andy McGowan

8. Craig Dias
9. Conor Casey

12. Shane Horan
11. Shane Cunningham
10. Dan O’Brien

14. Dara Mullin
15. Hugh Kenny
13. Paul Mannion

Subs

26. Callum Pearson for O’Brien (44)
29. Conor Kinsella for Horan (44)
25. Pat Burke for Cunningham (50) 

Referee: James King 

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About the author:

Kevin O'Brien  / reports from Parnell Park

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