Ballymun burst clear of Kilmacud at the last to reach Dublin final
Pulsating SFC semi-final in Parnell Park ends on a sour note but Kickhams deserve victory
Philly McMahon is challenged by Hugh Kenny during Ballymun’s semi-final victory. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Ballymun Kickhams 1-18 Kilmacud Crokes 2-12
A cracking Dublin football semi-final in Parnell Park saw Ballymun deservedly see off Kilmacud, but in a heated conclusion they were guilty of some self-harm when an outbreak of anarchy saw the very effective Davy Byrne given a straight red card for striking, four minutes into time added on.
He was followed by wing back Leon Young whose infraction was the subject of more mystification with his manager Brendan Hackett surmising that it must have been mistaken identity.
Young may be cleared but the winners will also have an anxious wait to see if replacement Jason Whelan has a case to answer on video review for appearing to have made contact with Cian O’Connor’s eye area during the triggering skirmish of the fracas.
Both players were yellow-carded but the referee’s report will make interesting reading in that if he says that he dealt with the matter, it will end there.
It was a pity for Ballymun who were very impressive in taking control of the endgame and putting enough distance on the scoreboard to provide a buffer between themselves and Crokes despite replacement Pat Burke’s, late poached goal - rammed into the net from close range after work by Paul Mannion - the same player having had a shot blocked on the a minute previously
The winners produced some great forward movement and frequently looked for a kicked-pass option, which made good use of the advanced mark.
The match went through phases which saw both teams look like they had it cracked until the winners’ took charge late in the contest to run off 1-3 without reply until Kilamcud’s late goal.
In a match where none of the defenders looked 100 per cent secure, Paddy Small was the most influential attacker, taking on the Crokes’ defence repeatedly and nearly always beating the marker.
His three points were supplemented by a number of assists and a turnover that led to a penalty.
It was as Hackett said afterwards, an extremely tense fixture but equally one that his team kept in focus even during a second quarter which saw their early gains go up in smoke. After one of the season’s great talking points, the water break, at which point they led by 0-5 to 0-1, Ballymun conceded 1-4 on the bounce to trail by two.
“To be honest after the second quarter I was actually thinking it was looking like extra-time,” said Kilmacud manager Robbie Brennan, “because it was nip and tuck. There didn’t look like there was going to be much in it. I’d have to look back and see what we missed but we missed a lot of chances and two or three turnovers up and around that area. That killed it for us, killed us.”
Both sides missed penalties. Mannion’s shot was saved by Evan Comerford at the cost of an unconverted 45 in the 11th minute but just after the break in play, Dan O’Brien produced a lightning strike of a goal that flashed into the Ballymun net. The lively movement of the Kilmacud attack looked at times likely to overwhelm the opposition but Kickhams always seemed to find a response.
Paddy Small led the comeback before half-time with a point and an assist but there was slight controversy when referee James King blew for a penalty when James McCarthy was tumbled although he had recovered to score the goal after a 1-2 with Rock, whose penalty was deflected over the bar by Conor Ferris.
In the second half, McCarthy came more strongly into the game as Ballymun pressed in the final quarter. It did look like extra-time might be needed, as the sides were level four times before the winning burst.
Central to it was the goal, bundled to the net by Cathal O’Tighe in the 60th minute - part of a critical 1-3 from the winners’ bench. Rock, whose radar was on the blink at times during the match - and who had missed a great chance to put the match away just before Burke’s goal - kicked the final score from a free to confirm a place in the final against Ballyboden, who they beat in last winter’s league final.
“I would say we were fitter,” said Hackett. “I had been saying this to you about hunger, because in a semi-final everybody is hungry, but I thought we’d huge desire. Huge desire. But we’d composure too. It was a frantic game, but we still had a lot of composure. I think there were a lot of factors in it, but for me the key ones would have been fitness and desire - just real desire to get to that next stage.”
Ballymun: Evan Comerford; Eoin Dolan, Philip McMahon, Darragh Conlon; Leon Young, John Small (0-1), Carl Keeley (0-1); Aaron Elliott, James McCarthy; Fiach Andrews, David Byrne, Brian Ashton; Paddy Small (0-3), Cameron McCormack (0-2), Dean Rock (0-8, three frees, one penalty). Subs: Jason Whelan (0-2) for Ashton (37 mins), Dillon Keating (0-1) for Andrews (37 mins), Andrew McCaul for Elliott (48 mins), Cathal O’Tighe (1-0) for McCormack (59 mins), James Burke for P Small (69 mins).
Kilmacud: Conor Ferris; Liam Flatman, Rory O’Carroll, Cillian O’Shea; Cian O’Connor, Cian O’Sullivan, Andy McGowan; Craig Dias, Conor Casey; Dan O’Brien (1-0), Shane Connaughton (0-1), Shane Horan (0-1); Paul Mannion (0-3), Dara Mullin (0-5, three frees), Hugh Kenny (0-2). Subs: Callum Pearson for O’Brien (45 mins), Conor Kinsella for Horan (46 mins), Pat Burke (1-0) for Cunningham (51 mins), Mark O’Leary for Mullin (61 mins).
Referee: James King (Garda).