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Kilmacud crowned Leinster champions for 5th time after dominant second-half

The Dublin side had seven points to spare over Naas in Croke Park.

Kilmacud Crokes 0-14

Naas 0-7

KILMACUD CROKES ARE Leinster club football champions for the fifth time in their history, comfortably seeing off Naas by double scores in tonight’s decider.

shane-cunningham-celebrates-with-the-trophy Kilmacud’s Shane Cunningham celebrates with the trophy. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

It was the first Leinster club decider to take place at Croke Park since 1978 and there was a good atmosphere despite the restriction of 5,000 supporters. 

The southside Dublin club atoned for their shock Leinster final defeat to Mullinalaghta in 2018 and they did it without their star forward Paul Mannion, who missed due to a knee injury.

Kilmacud’s latest Sean McCabe Cup leaves them joint-third with Carlow’s Eire Og on the Leinster roll of honour. 

They’ve shedded some 16 players from the panel since that painful defeat to the Longdord champions over three years ago. They’ll take on the Connacht winners, either in the All-Ireland semi-final on the weekend of 29/30 January. 

This was a complete team performance from Crokes. It was as impressive as they’ve looked all year and even then they missed three or four goal chances. They spread the scores around their team, Tom Fox leading the way with a five-point haul and Dara Mullin added three.

Kilmacud trailed by a point after 20 minutes but led at half-time and were five clear by the second water break. Naas failed to score for the entire second-half.

The Kildare champions were missing key forward Darragh Kirwan, arguably a bigger loss for them than Mannion’s absence for Kilmacud. 

Ultimately, Robbie Brennan’s team were more physical and had greater energy levels in the second period. They were excellent defensively, shoring things up and denying Naas free-taker Eamonn Callaghan placed balls within scoring range in the second-half.

eamonn-callaghan-with-his-son-fionn Naas’ Eamonn Callaghan with his son Fionn after the game. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The absence of Mannion and Kirwan for either side was significant. They lost their primary score-getters players who their game plans are centred around. 

For those watching on, it took some of the gloss off this highly anticipated fixture. 

Mannion hurt his knee in the pre-Christmas semi-final Portarlington and hardly trained in between. He did indicate during media duties this week that he would be fine to start, but wasn’t deemed fit enough to take any part. 

Kilmacud started well and looked more clinical up front. They raced 4-1 ahead after some well-taken efforts from Fox and Mullin. Naas came into the game and started to control possession, driven on by their dominant half-back line.

Paddy McDermott rampaged forward to kick a nice score and set-up two others before the break. Callaghan was as accurate as ever from frees in the opening half, though he did miss a scoreable effort from play.

Still, after a couple of fine fetches from James Burke in midfield, Naas were in front by the 20th minute. 

Kilmacud rallied with three in-a-row, the pick of them arriving from corner-back Dan O’Brien.

Crokes led 8-7 at half-time with Naas guilty of a few misses, leaving the game very much in the balance. 

The Dublin champions left two glorious goal chances behind at the start of the second period. Mullin was guilty of both misses: the first after Naas keeper Jack Rodgers misplaced a handpass and was racing back towards his goalmouth. Mullin blazed his shot off the upright. 

Then Dias broke through and fed Mullin on the edge of the square but his shot was superbly deflected over the bar by Cathal Daly.

A one-sided second-half saw Fox bring his tally to five and netminder Conor Ferris came up to clip a long-range free. Naas battled hard but couldn’t cut through a defence marshalled by Rory O’Carroll, and went scoreless after half-time. 

Kilmacud roll on to face either Knockmore or Padraig Pearses in three weeks’ time. 

Scorers for Kilmacud Crokes: Tom Fox (0-2f) 0-5, Dara Mullin 0-3, Callum Pearson 0-2, Conor Ferris (0-1f), Dan O’Brien, Craig Dias and Aidan jones 0-1 each.

Scorers for Naas: Eamonn Callaghan (0-4f) 0-4, Dermot Hanafin 0-2, Paddy McDermott 0-1.

Kilmacud Crokes 

1. Conor Ferris

2. Michael Mullin, 3. Ross McGowan, 5. Dan O’Brien,

7. Cillian O’Shea, 6. Rory O’Carroll, 4. Andrew McGowan

8. Craig Dias, 23. Conor Casey

21. Aidan Jones, 15. Dara Mullin, 10. Tom Fox

13. Hugh Kenny, 14. Shane Cunningham, 17. Callum Pearson 

Subs

12. Shane Horan for Kenny (ht)

18. Cian O”Connor for Pearson (48)

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20. Anthony Quinn for Cunningham (54)

27. Darragh Jones for Fox (57)

26. James Murphy for Dias (62)

Naas

1. Jack Rodgers

24. Cathal Daly, 8. Eoin Doyle, 3. Paul Sullivan,

5. Tom Browne, 6. Brian Byrne, 7. Paddy McDermott

14. James Burke, 9. Jack Cleary

17. Sean Cullen, 4. Colm Joyce, 2. Brian Kane

11. Eamonn Callaghan, 12. Luke Griffin, 20. Dermot Hanafin 

Subs

22. Conor McCarthy for Joyce (48)

26. Ailin McDermott for Kane (54)

23. Jack McEvitt for Maguire (55)

10. Shane Bergin for Griffin (57)

15. David Gahin for Cleary (59)

Referee: Patrick Maguire (Longford)

About the author:

Kevin O'Brien  / Reports from Croke Park

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