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Dublin SFC Final: Walsh inspires Crokes

Shane Walsh scoring a goal for Kilmacud Crokes against Ballyboden St Enda's in the Dublin SFC Final at Parnell Park. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Shane Walsh scoring a goal for Kilmacud Crokes against Ballyboden St Enda's in the Dublin SFC Final at Parnell Park. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Dublin SFC Final

Kilmacud Crokes 1-14 Ballyboden St Enda's 0-9

By Paul Keane at Parnell Park

You might have presumed they'd done it all at this stage but Kilmacud Crokes, the All-Ireland title holders, are three-in-a-row Dublin SFC winners for the very first time.

A terrific Parnell Park performance, buttressed by a strong defence and inspired by goalscorer Shane Walsh in attack, ultimately yielded an 11th county crown for the Glenalbyn crew.

Surprisingly given all they've won in recent seasons, Crokes were billed as underdogs for this final, but they made light of that status and delivered a five-star display, easily their best of the campaign to date.

Their eight-point win was also their biggest of the season having previously scraped past Raheny on penalties in the semi-final.

Galway All-Star Walsh finished with 1-2 and it was his 40th minute goal that broke 'Boden's resolve, pushing Crokes from three to six points ahead at that stage.

There were cameos too from Shane Cunningham and Dan O'Brien while Dublin hero Paul Mannion clipped a couple of important points in the first-half when Crokes were laying down their platform for victory.

Another stat associated with this win is that Crokes are now the joint second most successful team in Dublin club football history, with 11 titles.

They will have their eye on a third successive Leinster club title too and will return to provincial duty on Saturday week when they play Eire Og of Carlow, in Carlow, in a floodlit quarter-final.

Crokes must have enjoyed the rare experience of coming into the game as underdogs having narrowly scraped past Raheny.

Before that, their largest win in this year's campaign was a six-point dismissal of Castleknock in the group. For the most part, Robbie Brennan's side did just about enough to return to the decider.

In defence of the back to back Leinster club champions, they have been without injured Dublin midfielder Craig Dias while Walsh, tightly marked this time by Cathal Flaherty, has been battling injuries for a number of months.

The latest injury to affect the powerful forward was a broken nose suffered in the county quarter-final defeat of Ballymun Kickhams, requiring him to wear a protective mask against Raheny.

As for 'Boden, they reached the final with a cumulative 47 points to spare following double-digit victory margins in both the quarter-final win over Castleknock and the semi-final defeat of St Judes.

Backboned by Dublin duo Colm and Ryan Basquel in attack, along with Ross McGarry who featured for the Sky Blues in this year's Championship, they possessed the potential to cut through Crokes' typically miserly defence without ever managing to do so.

Maybe Crokes, who contested the last two All-Ireland finals, were simply pacing themselves, however, because when the need was greatest they rose to the occasion with their most impressive display of the season so far.

Mark O'Leary opened the scoring for the Stillorgan side in the third minute and while the teams were level twice in the early stages, the six-time provincial winners moved ahead in the 10th minute and remained in that position throughout.

At one stage, with 21 minutes on the clock, they held a double scores 0-6 to 0-3 advantage with Mannion and then defender O'Brien stroking over eye-catching scores from long-range.

Ballyboden cut the deficit to the minimum with back to back Ryan Basquel points before Mannion lofted over another beauty to leave Crokes 0-7 to 0-5 clear at the interval.

The match-ups were intriguing with All-Star nominee Colm Basquel tracked by Theo Clancy, Flaherty trailing Crokes dangerman Walsh and James Holland keeping tabs on Mannion.

Cunningham was excellent for Crokes in the second-half and hit their first two points of the third quarter before Walsh slammed in that goal.

It was a cracking finish off his left foot after he was set free following a turnover at midfield and left Crokes 1-9 to 0-6 ahead.

In truth, there only ever looked like being one winner after that with 'Boden ringing the changes and emptying their bench but painfully unable to find the openings to trouble the champions.

Dara Mullin chimed in with a point for Crokes too and they were full value for their eight-point win with substitute Anthony Quinn firing a goal attempt back off the cross in stoppage time.

Scorers for Kilmacud Crokes: Shane Walsh 1-2, Paul Mannion 0-3 (0-1f), Shane Cunningham 0-3, Shane Horan 0-1, Mark O'Leary 0-1, Aidan Jones 0-1, Dan O'Brien 0-1, Dara Mullin 0-1, Cian O'Connor 0-1.

Scorers for Ballyboden St Enda's: Ryan Basquel 0-3 (0-2f), Colm Basquel 0-3 (0-1f), Ross McGarry 0-2, Daire Sweeney 0-1.

Kilmacud Crokes: David Higgins; James Murphy, Dan O'Brien, Theo Clancy; Andrew McGowan, Aidan Jones, Rory O'Carroll; Mark O'Leary, Brian Sheehy; Shane Horan, Paul Mannion, Dara Mullin; Hugh Kenny, Shane Cunningham, Shane Walsh.

Subs: Cian O'Connor for Horan 42, Luke Ward for Kenny 51, Darragh Dempsey for Cunningham 58, Anthony Quinn for Jones 59, Liam Flatman for O'Leary 62.

Ballyboden St Enda's: Darragh Gogan; Cathal Flaherty, Kieran Kennedy, Shane Clayton; Brian Bobbett, James Holland, Alex Gavin; Cein Darcy, Michael Darragh Macauley; Luke O'Donohue, Warren Egan, Ross McGarry; Colm Basquel, Ryan Basquel, Ryan O'Dwyer.

Subs: Mick McDonald for Macauley h/t, Daire Sweeney for Egan 42, Ryan Baynes for Kennedy 45, Darren O'Reilly for O'Dwyer 49, Leo McHugh for Bobbett 52.

Referee: Dave Feeney (Parnells).