Dublin SFC SF: Crokes return to decider
Dublin SFC semi-final
Kilmacud Crokes 0-12 Thomas Davis 1-3
By Paul Keane at Parnell Park
An early scare aside, Kilmacud Crokes were comfortable victors at Parnell Park where Galway star Shane Walsh led the scoring to secure their return to the Dublin SFC final.
Holders Crokes conceded 1-1 before they eventually got off the mark but then reeled off eight points in a row to move into pole position.
From there, they didn't exactly speed to victory but kept underdogs Thomas Davis, who were reduced to 14 players when Ryan Deegan was dismissed in the 52nd minute, in their rear view mirror for the remainder of the contest.
Walsh finished with eight points and in the absence of three-time All-Star attacker Paul Mannion, who didn't even make the squad following a worrying ankle injury suffered in the quarter-final, the Kilkerrin-Clonberne man did the bulk of their scoring.
Walsh wore number 15 but operated largely around the middle third and spent the afternoon linking up the play until moving closer to goal in the closing minutes and drawing a save from the Thomas Davis goalkeeper.
The free-taker finished with 0-8, a haul that included two beautiful points from play and the team's business-like and efficient team display will send Robbie Brennan's side into the final against Na Fianna as clear favourites.
Thomas Davis, finalists in 2019 and chasing their first title since 1991, enjoyed a terrific start and hinted at a major upset.
Gavin Carruth, fresh from holding Ciaran Kilkenny scoreless in the quarter-final defeat of Castleknock, surged upfield to kick the game's opening point.
Two minutes later, Thomas Davis won possession around the halfway line and punished an exposed Crokes defence when Conor Guilfoyle fed Dublin U-20 attacker Fionn Murray who was in acres of space and slid a low shot to the net.
With just five minutes on the clock, and minus their star forward, Crokes could have been forgiven for being mightily concerned.
But another star forward, Walsh, took on the responsibility and eight Crokes points in a row, five of them coming from the feet of the Galway native, left the Glenalbyn side in full control of the game with a 0-8 to 1-1 lead.
Walsh scored four of those points from placed balls, all off his right foot, and then struck an inspirational long range score off his left boot to leave them four points clear.
Earlier in that blitz of Crokes scoring, Walsh had also set up Cunningham for a point, proving just why he's such a strong favourite to win an All-Star award this season.
Dan O'Brien was among the scorers too for Crokes and the defender's battle with Murray was one of the game's intriguing duels. Cian Murphy, an impact sub for the Dublin team in this year's Championship, got the task of
There were big displays from ex-Dublin midfielder Craig Dias and Cunningham too as Crokes hit the interval with a 0-8 to 1-2 lead.
Crokes only added four more points in the entire second-half but, crucially, held Thomas Davis to just one point in that period, from dual player Davy Keogh.
The Leinster champions brought all their big game experience to bear on the contest and played keep-ball for the most part with Walsh happy to recycle and funnel the ball sideways more times than he moved it forwards.
Thomas Davis lost Deegan eight minutes from time when he picked up his second yellow card for a heavy challenge on Crokes' Cian O'Connor.
Sub O'Connor closed out the day's scoring with a 64th minute point to leave the Stillorgan side celebrating a six-point win.
Scorers for Kilmacud Crokes: Shane Walsh 0-8 (0-5f, 0-1 45), Shane Cunningham 0-1, Dara Mullin 0-1, Dan O'Brien 0-1, Cian O'Connor 0-1.
Scorers for Thomas Davis: Fionn Murray 1-0, Gavin Carruth 0-1, Conor Guilfoyle 0-1, Davy Keogh 0-1.
Kilmacud Crokes: Conor Ferris; Dan O'Brien, Ross McGowan, Michael Mullin; Cillian O'Shea, Rory O'Carroll, Andrew McGowan; Ben Shovlin, Craig Dias; Aidan Jones, Shane Walsh, Tom Fox; Hugh Kenny, Dara Mullin, Shane Cunningham.
Subs: Cian O'Connor for Kenny 30-46 blood, Shane Horan for Jones 48, O'Connor for Fox 51, Conor Casey for Kenny 52, Anthony Quinn for Cunningham 59,
Thomas Davis: Robert Crilly; Aaron Shorten, Adam Fallon, Gavin Carruth; Davy Keogh, Cian Murphy, Sean Kennedy; Ryan Deegan, Adam Waddick; Sean Farrelly, Eamon Conroy, Eoin Lambert; Fionn Murray, Eoin Kirby, Conor Guilfoyle.
Subs: Oisin Kelly for Eoin Lambert 37, Josh Lambert for Carruth 50, Chris Sallier for Josh Lambert 59.
Referee: Dave Feeney.