Crokes’ Experience Edges Over Line Against Na Fianna
Kilmacud Croke’s 0-17 – 0-15 Na Fianna
There was a palpable sense of relief in Parnell Park on the final whistle a Croke’s edged over the line against, supposed, significant underdogs, Na Fianna.
In the end, it would run more or less as our preview had suggested – that Croke’s should be favourites, but not nearly as overwhelmingly as the bookies made it. Yes, Na Fianna had the calibre, but when push came to shove, Croke’s had the experience and the composure to see out an initial Glasnevin shock-wave.
The Mobhi Road men came out of the blocks in a manner barely imaginable reeling off six unanswered points in the opening seven minutes.
Putting immense pressure on Croke’s in the middle third they were completely dominant as they virtually owned the ball with both corner forwards, Donal Burke and Colin Currie in particular, looking too hot to handle up front.
Dropping off on Crokes’ puck-out, line by line, they initially swamped them on breaks, serving as a spring-board for their early dominance.
Croke’s cause wasn’t helped by giving away free after free in the opening quarter, as Na Fianna constantly drove at them from the middle third.
By the tenth minute, however, Croke’s got a foothold on the game and began to give as good as they got, with Fergal Whitely to the fore knocking over a couple of points in the blink of an eye and Coalán Connway hitting a brace also.
By half time, with Na Fianna becoming the guilty party in terms of soft free concession, Croke’s had brought it back to 0-11 to 0-7.
Na Fiannaa initially extended their lead early in the second half, before Croke’s hit a purple patch, bringing it back to two points, before it all happened approaching the fifty minute mark.
Trailing by two, Whitely rose magestically to pluck a ball from the air and score an inspirational point under pressure – the type you felt would give Croke’s the momentum-only for dominant Na Fianna midfielder, Fergal Breathnach to go straight up the end of the field an earn a free to put two between the sides again.
Immediately afterwards, Crokes’ Alex Consedine broke through one-on-one from a tight angle, only for Johnathon Treacy in the Na Fianna goal to block the shot. The play would be brought back for an advantage, leaving just one between the sides with ten minutes remaining.
When an Oisín O’Rourke free leveled things a couple of minutes later, it was all to play for.
Ironically, it was Na Fianna’s dominant forward of the afternoon, Currie, who would fail to give them the impetus again with three minutes remaining. With drizzle having begun to fall, a tricky free from a wide position, 65 odd yards out, came off the outside of the post.
Crokes’ experience would shine through, when Na Fianna failed to control a ball in defence a minute later and Ross O’Carroll showed all of his experience to pounce on the opportunity, miles out of position, to steal the ball, and point.
A point to the good, the following move saw the calm headed Barry O’Rourke send a ball thirty yard backwards from the end-line for the unmarked Ronan Hayes to point.
Two points down, deep into injury time, a side-line cut for Na Fianna, from distance, failed to make it into the heart of the danger zone, representing Na Fianna’s last opportunity.
A gallant fight from the up and coming side against the aristocrats, the Mobhi Road men were left to rue what might have been. Croke’s march on.
*full analysis to follow tomorrow*
By Stephen O’Meara