Leinster SFC: Paul Mannion lights the way as Kilmacud speed past Dunboyne

All Star racks up 2-6 for Dublin champions in trouble-free progress to Leinster semi-finals

Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin) 2-17 St Peter’s Dunboyne (Meath) 0-7

Not much to report from Navan about Sunday's AIB Leinster club quarter-final per se, as was detectable in the comments afterwards, which took in a range of extraneous matters such as the winning side's joint-captain Cian O'Sullivan's afternoon off after his stag weekend in Madrid.

O’Sullivan had a stress-free afternoon’s viewing as by the time of Paul Mannion’s free in the 24th minute to put Kilmacud 0-8 to 0-2 ahead, the visitors had banked a sufficient score to win the match and everything afterwards was for decoration.

The Dublin All Star followed up on his masterful 1-6 from play in the county final with 2-6 in 52 minutes on the pitch, including a penalty and fives frees, to put the tin hat on an overwhelmingly one-sided match.


Mannion had excellent support. Veteran Pat Burke's work rate was exceptional and his four frees in the first half kept the scoreboard ticking. Dara Mullin was another danger for the Glenalbyn club and he nearly got in for a seventh-minute goal but the vigilant Cian O'Dwyer deflected the shot – which was probably going wide – over the bar.

Dunboyne manager Ciaron Byrne admitted to disappointment with his team's performance, which also saw the final appearance of club stalwart David Gallagher.

“We came here today with high hopes. I know a lot of people thought we might have only been turning up, but we came here determined to do a good job and unfortunately we didn’t. We let ourselves down a bit today,” said Byrne.

“We knew coming in here what a good team they were. I have to say we looked at ourselves in that dressingroom after the game and I think, to a man, we probably didn’t turn up and that’s disappointing and that’s something we have to look at – and probably in the wider context of Meath football, why we’re not turning up on big occasions and we should have turned up today.”

There was a chasm between the sides. Kilmacud had the more polished performers and a well-oiled gameplan, run relentlessly over the hour by a team that never gave up working.

Dunboyne carried the added handicap of their county forward Donal Lenihan having departed on his travels. His absence hit hard at the Meath champions, whose most obvious difficulty was in keeping in touch on the scoreboard and the inability to make better use of opportunities meant that the match slid from their grasp at an early stage.

The team’s most sustained spell came in the 10 minutes before half-time but by then they had too much ground to recover to put real pressure on their opponents and trailed 0-5 to 0-10 at the break.

They tried to maintain momentum on the resumption and badgering Conor Casey into shooting wide in front of goal followed by Shane McEntee's block on Craig Dias were statements of intent. But they couldn't score and when Mannion was taken down by Séamus Lavin in the square 10 minutes into the second half, he reprised his All-Ireland final penalty dispatch with a crisp shot, this time to the right of goalkeeper Cian Flynn.

He struck again within three minutes when a botched clearance set him up for another goal and an 11-point lead, 2-10 to 0-5, leaving the match as a contest showing all the vital signs of a lab-rat pegged out on a slab.

The final quarter was played out to the backdrop of points being kicked in a match drained of urgency.

Afterwards joint Kilmacud manager Robbie Brennan paid tribute to the side's top gun.

“What he has done with Dublin he has carried on with his club form, which you don’t always get so he’s a massive plus for us, a massive plus. He’s such a threat for opposition to have to mark him straight away and then we’ve other guys who step up then if he’s held.

“He’s still carrying that hamstring, that’s why we took him out of there early enough. We’re trying to balance him and not do too much or too little either. No, he’s moving well in fairness to him.”

Brennan is a central character in the entwined history of the clubs, which has seen Dunboyne face Kilmacud in each of the three years that they have won the Meath title. Twenty years ago he played for the Dubliners and by 2005 was playing in Dunboyne. Back with his original club this time as manager, he explained the diplomatic niceties.

“Yeah, there was a bit of banter. I think the kids in school got more of it than I did. There was a bit around the place but I was purposely trying to steer clear of it. I haven’t had a pint down the village yet and I won’t be there tonight either.”

KILMACUD CROKES: 1 David Nestor; 2 Liam Flatman, 3 Andrew McGowan (0-1), 17 Aidan Jones; 5 Cian O'Connor (0-1), 6 Cillian O'Shea (0-1), 7 Ross McGowan; 8 Craig Dias (capt), 9 Conor Casey; 12 Shane Horan, 10 Shane Cunningham, 15 Callum Pearson (0-1); 14 Dara Mullin (0-2), 11 Paul Mannion (2-6, 1-0 penalty, five frees), 13 Pat Burke (0-4, four frees).

Subs: 20 Ronan Ryan for Jones (40 mins), 27 Kevin Dyas for Horan (44), 25 Stephen Williams (0-1) for Mannion (52), 24 Tom Fox for Cunningham, 26 Mark Vaughan for Burke (both 54), 22 Nathan Nolan for C Dias (57).

DUNBOYNE: 1 Cian Flynn; 6 Gavin McCoy, 12 Liam Byrne, 29 Cian O'Dwyer; 5 Cathal Finn (capt) (0-1), 7 Séamus Lavin (0-1), 19 Craig Lowndes (0-1); 3 Shane McEntee, 18 Jack Donnelly; 9 Niall Jones, 10 Stuart Lowndes (0-2), 2 Seán Ryan; 13 Robert McCarthy (0-1), 30 Ronan Jones, 11 David McEntee (0-1, free).

Subs: 17 Conor Doran for Ryan (24 mins, black card), 4 Jack Scannell for Donnelly (41 mins), 8 David Gallagher for Niall Jones (46), 14 Michael Dunne for David McEntee (54), 23 Shane Comiskey for McCarthy (54), 27 Stephen Moran for Cian O'Dwyer (57).

Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois).

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times