Trailing by a point at half-time, the 2009 All-Ireland Club champions looked in real danger of a surprise defeat.
Brigid’s, just one victory away from a clean sweep of county junior, intermediate and senior titles, bossed the first-half and hit a whopping nine wides. But a bright Crokes start to the second-half yielded a goal inside four minutes from Longford ace Kavanagh and the Glenalbyn side began to purr menacingly.
Shortly after Kavanagh’s palmed effort, former Dublin forward Vaughan was sprung from the bench and enjoyed an immediate impact. He first powered over a long range free before converting a penalty, albeit at the second attempt following Shane Supple’s block.
The second goal put Crokes 2-7 to 0-9 clear, knocked the stuffing out of dazed Brigid’s and allowed Crokes to stride confidently to victory.
Amazingly, the victory was achieved without arguably Crokes best three players; Dublin trio Paul Griffin, Darren Magee and Mark Davoren. All three are at various stages of recovery from serious injuries.
Crokes will undoubtedly head into the Leinster Club championship – where they’ll face the Kildare or Laois champions – as favourites to regain the crown they last won in 2008. The victory – which puts Crokes on their own in fourth place in the capital’s overall roll of honour – also increases the stock of manager Paddy Carr in the race for the Meath manager’s hot-seat.
Ironically, Brigid’s manager Gerry McEntee, a Royal County hero, has also been nominated for the position but isn’t believed to be interested.
Dublin panellists Paddy Andrews and Ross O’Carroll enjoyed a thrilling first-half battle with Andrews scoring three Brigid’s points from play off the big defender.
He also won a free off O’Carroll that Ken Darcy converted to put Brigid’s 0-5 to 0-4 up at half-time.
Missed chances and all those wides cost them dear though and once Crokes restarted with such gusto it was ominous for the Blanchardstown outfit.
Kavanagh was superb, adding another 1-4 overall to his championship tally of 1-20, and made life hugely difficult for Brigid’s full-back Peadar Andrews, the former Dublin defender.
Adrian Morrissey and Niall Corkery, county players with Wexford and Dublin, combined before playing the ball across goal for Kavanagh to palm home their first goal.
Vaughan got the second goal when he stood up to a penalty after Gavin Kane’s foul on Morrissey and scored from the rebound.
Vaughan scored a point from play soon after before playing in Kavanagh for Crokes’ last point, the two game breakers fittingly combining.
KILMACUD CROKES: D Nestor; Ross O’Carroll, Rory O’Carroll, C Lamb; B McGrath, C O’Sullivan (0-1), R Ryan; N Corkery, P Duggan; L Óg O hEineachain, D Kelleher (0-1), A Morrissey (0-1); B O’Rorke (0-1; 1f), B Kavanagh (1-4; 3f), P Burke (0-1).
Subs: M Vaughan (1-2; 1f) for O’Rorke 37, C Dias (0-1) for Morrissey 52, L McBarron for Duggan 59, N McGrath for Corkery 61.
ST BRIGID’S: S Supple (0-1; 1 45); A Daly, Peadar Andrews, G Norton; G Kane, S Murray, D Lally; C Mullins, B Cahill (0-1); K Kilmurray, M Cahill, K Bonner; Paddy Andrews (0-4; 1f), K Darcy (0-3; 3f), P Ryan (0-2).
Subs:D Plunkett for Kilmurray 40, C Kilmurray for Lally 45, C Carr for M Cahill 52, C Freeman for Murray 58, N Davey for Bonner 61.
Referee: K Tighe (St Anne’s).