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Sunday 29 January 2023 Dublin: 5°C
James Crombie/INPHO Kilmacud’s Shane Walsh gets a shot away.
# Winning
Shane Walsh delivers another stunning Croke Park cameo to leave with smile on face
The Galway intercounty star struck nine points to help Kilmacud Crokes triumph over The Downs in the Leinster club SFC final.

Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin) 1-12
The Downs (Westmeath) 0-8

Paul Keane reports from Croke Park

IN JUST HIS seventh game for Kilmacud Crokes, Shane Walsh is already an AIB Leinster club SFC medallist, the Galway All-Star delivering another terrific Croke Park cameo to help secure the silverware.

Walsh struck nine points, the exact same tally he conjured back in July when Galway came up short of Kerry in the All-Ireland final, and this time left GAA Headquarters with a smile on his face.

The gifted forward only made the switch from Kilkerrin-Clonberne after the All-Ireland decider but has already claimed county and provincial titles, as well as the Man of the Match award here.

Next up for Walsh and Crokes is an All-Ireland semi-final clash with the Munster champions – Kerins O’Rahillys or Newcastle West – on 7 or 8 January.

Shane Cunningham netted for the Stillorgan side early on while their defence generally was terrific, holding The Downs scoreless from play in the first-half, just like they did to Portarlington in the semi-finals.

With 0-25 already to his name, Walsh was always likely to be the main man and proved to be just that in the opening half as Crokes built up a near unassailable 11-point lead at the interval.

The Footballer of the Year nominee opened the scoring in the third minute following a neat exchange of passes with Craig Dias who pointed and, shortly after, Walsh dropped a point attempt short which allowed captain Cunningham to fist in the opening goal.

Westmeath’s Tailteann Cup winning forward Luke Loughlin responded with a point for The Downs but it was their only one in the entire half. They didn’t score from open play until the 44th minute as that early Loughlin score came from a converted free following Hugh Kenny’s foul on Conor Coughlan.

As the weather worsened and the rain sheeted in across GAA Headquarters on a cold diagonal wind that blew down and across the field from the Hill 16 End, favouring Crokes in the opening half, the Dubliners appeared to grow in confidence.

Walsh was curled over two terrific points to stretch the lead before Cian O’Connor, one of two late additions to the Crokes lineup, boomed another over from the right wing.

harry-caulfield-dejected James Crombie / INPHO The Downs’ Harry Caulfield (left) dejected James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Aidan Jones got on the scoresheet with a kick from the same area and, point by point, The Downs must have felt like the game was quickly slipping away from them.

Crokes reeled off 1-8 in total without response before Maurice Deegan’s half-time whistle drew a halt to proceedings, leaving the Glenalbyn outfit 1-9 to 0-1 up.

The Downs’ cause wasn’t helped by the apparent knee injury which forced joint captain and centre-back Mark Kelly out of the game late in the first-half.

Back to back Walsh points from frees in the third quarter left Crokes on the cusp of victory and their sixth provincial crown.

They did have to play into the stiff wind though and The Downs took advantage to reel off two separate bursts of four points and, later, three points.

It was impressive resolve from the Westmeath side who got a kick from their bench in the form of four points from Tom Tuite, Dean Egerton and Harry Caulfield.

But they never looked like reeling in a thoroughly efficient Crokes side that were watched from the sideline by injured three-time All-Star Paul Mannion.

Kilmacud Crokes scorers: Shane Walsh 0-9 (0-5f, 0-1 45), Shane Cunningham 1-0, Aidan Jones 0-1, Rory O’Carroll 0-1, Cian O’Connor 0-1.

The Downs scorers: Luke Loughlin 0-3 (0-1f), Tom Tuite 0-2 (0-1f), Niall Mitchell 0-1 (0-1f), Dean Egerton 0-1, Harry Caulfield 0-1.

Kilmacud Crokes

1. Conor Ferris

2. Micheal Mullin
3. Theo Clancy
4. Dan O’Brien

10. Aidan Jones
6. Rory O’Carroll
7. Andrew McGowan

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8. Craig Dias
9. Ben Shovlin

19. Shane Horan
15. Shane Walsh
21. Cian O’Connor

13. Hugh Kenny
11. Shane Cunningham
14. Dara Mullin

Subs:
12. Tom Fox for Horan 42
24. Paraic Purcell for Cunningham 45
5. Cillian O’Shea for O’Connor 51
28. Luke Ward for Mullin 59
20. Jeff Kenny for Hugh Kenny 59 – full-time, blood

The Downs

1. Trevor Martin

4. Eanna Burke
3. Peter Murray
2. Darragh Egerton

5. Conor Coughlan
6. Mark Kelly
7. Joseph Moran

8. Charlie Drumm
11. Niall Mitchell

13. Ian Martin
9. Ciaran Nolan
17. Johnathan Lynam

10. Andrew Kilmartin
14. Luke Loughlin
12. Kevin O’Sullivan

Subs:
18. Oisin Murphy for Kelly 25
20. Dean Egerton for Kilmartin 36
15. Tom Tuite for O’Sullivan 47
21. Liam Moran for Martin 55
23. Harry Caulfield for Lynam 60

Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois).

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