Kilmacud Crokes win thrilling Leinster semi-final
AIB Leinster Club SFC Semi-Final
KILMACUD CROKES (DUBLIN) 1-17 PORTLAOISE (LAOIS) 3-8
By Paul Keane at Parnell Park
Former All-Ireland champions Kilmacud Crokes lived on their wits at Parnell Park before holding out to secure a return to the AIB Leinster club SFC final.
The south-Dublin outfit led by three points in stoppage time of a highly entertaining semi-final when Portlaoise were awarded a penalty.
Substitute Craig Rogers, who'd earlier scored a goal after his introduction, took the kick, but his attempt was expertly pushed away by Crokes 'keeper Graham Brody.
It meant that Rogers' 46th minute goal from play was ultimately Portlaoise's last score and Crokes points from Pat Burke, Paul Mannion and Andrew McGowan separated the teams.
Four-time provincial winners Crokes will play Mullinalaghta of Longford in the final on December 9.
Back to back All-Star Paul Mannion will be a marked man again after adding to his 2-6 tally against Dunboyne in the quarter-finals with 0-5 here.
Cian O'Sullivan, his Dublin colleague, was also in the Crokes team after sitting out the semi-final win over Dunboyne.
He was just back from his stag in Spain that day and wasn't missed as the Glenalbyn side won at their leisure, but they were under more pressure here.
Crokes led by 1-11 to 2-5 at half-tim,e but were fortunate to lead at all having been dominated at times under their own kick-out.
Portlaoise kicked that 2-5 tally in the opening half, but also blasted nine wides and dropped a couple of efforts short.
Callum Pearson opened the Crokes scoring with a point after two minutes and Dara Mullin scored a superb solo goal for them shortly after.
But the Portlaoise response was to drill a goal themselves when Gareth Dillon netted after a fine solo run up the left.
It set the tone for an intriguing back and forth and while Crokes led for the entire game they always looked vulnerable when Portlaoise attacked.
Paul Cahillane curled in a 17th minute goal for Portlaoise as they cut through the Crokes defence at times.
The problem for the Midlands outfit was that their own defence was too porous and Crokes scored from the majority of their attacks.
Crokes had seven different scores in the first-half with ex-Dublin players Burke and Craig Dias on the mark along with the impressive Pearson.
Portlaoise also suffered from poor shooting at the other end and kicked too many wides which allowed the hosts to lead by that three-point margin at the break.
Mannion, fresh from his 2-6 tally in the quarter-finals, and 1-6 in the county final, was tracked throughout by David Seale in an intriguing duel.
Mannion added three second-half points though Portlaoise were best in the third quarter of the game and got back to level terms after 46 minutes.
That was when Rogers got his goal after playing a neat one-two and the visiting supporters felt they could kick on for a famous win.
But they didn't score again as Crokes reeled off those three points to secure a welcome final place.
Scorers for Kilmacud Crokes: Dara Mullin 1-2, Paul Mannion 0-5 (2fs), Callum Pearson 0-3, Pat Burke 0-3 (1f), Shane Cunningham 0-1, Craig Dias 0-1, Cian O'Connor 0-1, Andrew McGowan 0-1.
Scorers for Portlaoise: Paul Cahillane 1-3 (1f), Gareth Dillon 1-0, Craig Rogers 1-0, Ricky Maher 0-1, Kieran Lillis 0-1, Brian McCormack 0-1, Conor Boyle 0-1, Brian Glynn 0-1.
KILMACUD CROKES: David Nestor; Liam Flatman, Andrew McGowan, Ross McGowan; Cian O'Connor, Cillian O'Shea, Cian O'Sullivan; Craig Dias, Conor Casey; Shane Horan, Callum Pearson, Shane Cunningham; Paul Mannion, Dara Mullin, Pat Burke.
Subs: Aidan Jones for R McGowan (36), Kevin Dyas for Horan (47), Tom Fox for Cunningham (55), Stephen Williams for Mullin (62), Ronan Ryan for O'Connor (62, black card). Dias black card 65, not replaced.
PORTLAOISE: Graham Brody; Frank Flanagan, Gary Saunders, David Seale; Cahir Healy, Chris Finn, David Holland; Ciaran McEvoy, Kieran Lillis; Brian Glynn, Conor Boyle, Gareth Dillon; Paul Cahillane, Brian McCormack, Ricky Maher.
Subs: Craig Rogers for Maher (36), Scott Lawless for McCormack (47), Aaron Rafter for Glynn (55), Colin Finn for Holland (58).
REFEREE: David Coldrick (Meath).