Kilmacud Crokes beat St Mullin’s to make set up historic double chance

Dublin side ponder asking for postponement to allow dual star Brian Sheehy to play in both finals

Leinster SHC semi-final: Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin) 1-24 St Mullin’s (Carlow) 1-12

Kilmacud Crokes joint hurling manager Kieran Dowling has indicated the club may seek a rescheduling of next Sunday’s Leinster club finals, to provide dual player Brian Sheehy with a reasonable opportunity to feature in both.

Crokes have advanced to the Leinster club senior hurling decider for the first time ever, where they will face Ballyhale Shamrocks. The club’s footballers, who are hoping to retain the provincial title, are to meet The Downs in their final – and both games are pencilled in as part of a Croke Park double-header next Sunday, the football at 2.30pm followed by the hurling at 4.30pm.

Sheehy is a regular starter at corner back for the hurlers while he has also been part of the match-day squad with the footballers – coming off the bench late on in their two most recent outings, against Naas and Portarlington, even chipping in with a point last time out.


“It’s unfortunate,” said Dowling. “And in some ways I’m here wondering do we actually look for it to be moved or do we just go and have a historic day for the club and have two in a Leinster final? I think it’s very unfair on Brian, on a human level.

“He’s going to have to go do a warm-up, sit down, get cold, come on and play the last 10-15 minutes as he normally does [with the footballers], hopefully.

“And then come warm-up with us and go play a match. It doesn’t strike me as right. It’s not Des Foley back in the sixties and the Railway Cup, it’s 2022 and I don’t think that’s fair to Brian, personally.

“I think it’s a conversation for the club to have with the Leinster Council. I’ll leave it to the chairman. Look, all I want is Brian to be able to perform at his best, that’s all. I don’t think that’s unfair. If it was Loughmore-Castleiney or a Cork team, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

However, the attraction of a double header of this magnitude has to be hugely appealing to the club as a whole while the issue of television coverage of both finals might make it difficult for any refixture to be accommodated.

If the games go ahead as already planned, Dowling says Sheehy could still possibly feature in both.

“Of course he could, probably, he’s a beast. The lad is a beast, so he could, but it’s not fair,” added Dowling.

Crokes were convincing winners over St Mullin’s in their semi-final at Croke Park and the Dublin champions had the game wrapped up by half-time, at which stage they led 1-13 to 0-6.

However, it could have been a much more competitive encounter had St Mullin’s converted a 13th minute penalty, when just three points separated the sides.

Bill O’Carroll conceded the penalty with a neck-high tackle on goal-bound Jason O’Neill. Referee John Keenan flashed O’Carroll a yellow card, but it could easily have been a red.

Marty Kavanagh, usually so accurate from placed balls, arrowed the resulting penalty low but just wide of the Kilmacud goal.

O’Carroll gave away a free moments later for another high tackle, but escaped any sanction on that occasion and was then substituted by the Crokes management team, sensing their corner back was flying close to the sun.

“There was no point taking chances, you were always hopeful you might win through to the next day and there is no point having somebody on a red and gone,” admitted Dowling.

St Mullin’s, justifiably, felt their opponents should have been reduced to 14 men for the remainder of the game.

“The penalty definitely was a very high tackle, a dangerous tackle,” said Maurice Aylward, the St Mullin’s manager. “The man that refereed the match there, John Keenan, he’s good, he allows a lot of things to go and fair play I like him as a referee. But there are other referees who would have given two red cards there today, definitely the first one was a red card, it was a dangerous tackle.”

It was the defining period of the game. St Mullin’s did clip over a pair of points after the missed penalty to reduce the deficit to the minimum by the quarter hour. But Crokes won the game in the nine minutes that followed – scoring 1-7 without reply to build up a 1-11 to 0-3 lead, Ronan Hayes registering the goal.

St Mullin’s did start the second half strongly, scoring the first three points on the restart, but Oisin O’Rorke then hit four on the bounce for Crokes to take the sting out of their Carlow opponents.

Michael Roche, Dara Purcell, Fergal Whitely and O’Rorke were all impressive for Crokes but the intensity went out of the game following that dominant spell from the midway point of the first half.

Conor Kehoe scrambled a consolation goal for the Carlow side in second-half injury-time, but at that stage Kilmacud Crokes had already turned their attention to Ballyhale Shamrocks.

Kilmacud Crokes: E Gibbons; B Sheehy (0-1), D Butler, B O’Carroll; C MacGabhann, C Ó Cathasaigh; B Hayes, D Purcell (0-3); F Whitley (0-3), R Hayes (1-1), C Conway (0-1); M Roche (0-2), B Scanlan (0-2), O’Rorke (0-11 five frees, two 65s). Subs: C Ryan for O’Carroll (20 mins); R O’Loughlin for Grogan (40 mins); F Ó Ceallaigh for Conway (46 mins); R Smith for Butler (57 mins); R Costello for O’Rorke (57 mins)

St Mullin’s: K Kehoe; G Bennett, P Doyle, J Doran; P O’Shea, M Walsh, G Coady; J Kavanagh (0-1), P Kehoe; P Connors, J Doyle (0-2), C Kehoe (1-2); J O’Neill, M Kavanagh (0-5, four frees), P Boland (0-2). Subs: J Doyle for Bennett (24 mins); O Ryan for O’Neill (46 mins); E Doyle for Connor (46 mins); C Connolly for O’Shea (60 mins); P Walsh for M Kavanagh (61 mins)

Referee: J Keenan (Wicklow)

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning

Gordon Manning is a sports journalist, specialising in Gaelic games, with The Irish Times