Kilmacud Crokes edge home by minimum margin again

Sean McGrath hits 15 points for Dublin champs as Rathdowney-Errill left to rue their first half wides

Kilmacud Crokes 0-23 Rathdowney-Errill 0-22

For the second match running, Kilmacud made it through a very tricky contest after extra time. Unlike in last month’s Dublin final though, it was they who got caught at the end of normal time yesterday in Parnell Park, losing a four-point lead in the last nine minutes.

The fightback was characteristic of Rathdowney-Errill, who never let the Dublin champions stretch their lead to a comfortable margin and resisted all the way, though they could never quite catch their opponents.

The exceptional deadball striking of Seán McGrath provided Kilmacud with the bulk of their scores. All told, he scored 15 points, one from play and one from a 65, with just one wide, by the end of the first half of extra-time, at which stage he looked to have picked up the hamstring strain that forced him off before the final whistle.


According to his manager, Ollie Baker, McGrath is expected to be fine for the next match in three weeks' time.

This wasn’t, however, a simple case of the favourites holding their nerve to see out the match. For most of the first half, the Laois champions held the initiative and created a plethora of chances to magnify the challenge facing Kilmacud.

Off the crossbar

In the 12th minute

Ross King

shrugged off Rory O’Carroll and powered in on goal, but his shot rapped off the crossbar and the ball was cleared. Eight minutes later

Patrick Purcell

, who gave an excellent display at centrefield, caught a restart and charged upfield. He went for goal and

Matt Collins

, again more than useful, saved at the expense of a 65.

It took the Dublin champions a while to hit anything resembling a stride, but having held on for the opening 20 minutes, they outscored Rathdowney by 0-6 to 0-1 in the 10 minutes before half-time. McGrath led the charge with five points, from play, a 65 and frees, but Barry O’Rorke also hit a good score to leave it 0-11 to 0-7 at half-time.


Ross King’s sharpshooting was nearly as impressive as McGrath’s and he led the Laois side’s resistance in the second half with three points. When

Tadhg Dowling

added two in a minute, there was just a point in it and Rathdowney-Errill had the wind at their backs.

Kilmacud's use of the ball was generally poor and too much possession was hit hopefully into space. But a scoring burst from McGrath, Damien Kelly and Caolan Conway restored the four-point lead, which was then pegged back by Ross King's two frees and points from Darren King and Patrick Purcell.

Same pattern in extra-time

Extra-time followed a similar pattern, with Kilmacud thrice establishing a three-point lead, but their opponents kept coming. Despite Conway’s free giving the Dubliners a 0-23 to 0-20 lead with two minutes left, Rathdowney replacement

Eoin Burke

and King narrowed the margin to the minimum before the end. The last puck saw Dowling’s shot dropping on target but just too short.

"Rathdowney just threw everything at us and we were lucky, we were fortunate," said winning manager Ollie Baker. "We were fortunate to still be in the game after 20 minutes and we had a purple patch just before half-time that gave us a bit of a cushion. Only for that, I tell you, we were in disarray at certain times. But we eked out a victory, maybe, out of the jaws of defeat again, so look, we're just delighted to be in a Leinster semi-final."

His counterpart, Conor Gleeson, who coincidentally faced Clare's Baker with Tipperary c during the 1997 All-Ireland final, was disappointed but proud of his team. "We're devastated, very disappointed. They've put in a lot of work to get to this stage. We might have come up as slight underdogs today, but we felt we had a great chance. We tried everything, did what we could today, but just came up a little bit short."

KILMACUD: M Collins; N Corcoran, Rory O'Carroll, J Clinton; C MacGabhann, J Dougan, B O'Carroll; D Mulligan, D Kelly (0-1); Ross O'Carroll (0-1), R O'Dwyer (0-1), J Sweeney; C Conway (0-3, one free), S McGrath (0-15, 13 frees, one 65), B O'Rorke (0-1). Subs: R Murphy for B O'Carroll (41 mins), B Mulligan for MacGabhann (44 mins), O O'Rorke for B O'Rorke (48 mins), C Rafferty for Sweeney (55 mins), C Clinton (0-1) for Mulligan (70 mins), B Ó Leidhin for D Mulligan (75 mins), J Burke for McGrath (76 mins).

RATHDOWNEY: N Brennan; A Delaney, B Campion, J Corrigan; J Fitzpatrick, P Mahon, L O'Connell; S Dollard, P Purcell (0-2); J Purcell (0-1), J Ryan, E Meagher (0-2); M Kavanagh, R King (0-13, nine frees, one 65), T Dowling (0-2). Subs: D King (0-1) for Meagher (half-time), D Bowe for Ryan (39 mins), L Tynan (0-1) for Kavanagh (57). Meagher for Tynan (extra time), Kavanagh for D King (70 mins), E Burke for Dollard (70 mins).

P O’Dwyer (Carlow).

Seán Moran

Seán Moran

Seán Moran is GAA Correspondent of The Irish Times