Another huge haul from Kilmacud Crokes sharpshooter Seanie McGrath — 15 points in all — sealed the club’s AIB Leinster club semi-final spot.
In the process, it sent a timely message to new county manager Ger Cunningham that if he’s looking for alternative talent in attack then it exists.
During the summer, pundit Donal Og Cusack was critical of Dublin for not having enough natural stick men up front and suggested they draft in new talent. It prompted county stalwart Liam Rushe to riposte, with a wry smile, that he’d like to know where all this apparent untapped talent actually is.
Well, McGrath is not exactly untried at county level but on the basis of his last two displays he could be ready to step up.
In the county final, he shot 1-5 including a crucial late goal and, yesterday, in a game that also went to extra-time, he helped himself to 15 points. All but one of those came from placed balls but don’t let that fool you about his ability in open play.
He eventually tweaked a hamstring and had to come off in extra-time.
By that stage, Crokes were in the process of finally knocking Rathdowney-Errill’s well built house down. Not that they made it easy on themselves.
Clare legend Ollie Baker, in his first season as Crokes boss after a stint in charge of Offaly, admitted his side were ‘in disarray’ at times yesterday. They twice took four-point leads, the first of which was at half-time when they led 0-11 to 0-7 and again with just six minutes remaining when they were 0-17 to 0-13 clear and, apparently, home and hosed only to cough up the advantage.
McGrath is a game-breaker on this sort of form though and he brought his talents to bear again, adding three points in extra-time that were decisive before limping off.
It was tough on the Laois outfit who were chasing a second ever win in the Leinster senior club championship. They had a gilt-edged opportunity to do it when they seized momentum late in normal time.
Ross King was their talismanic free-taker and two points from him helped to draw the sides level at 0-17 apiece. But with Crokes on the ropes Rathdowney-Errill were unable to apply the knockout punch and shot two wides that cost them as the Dubliners improved in extra-time.
Scorers for Kilmacud Crokes: S McGrath (0-15, 14 frees, one 65), C Conway (0-3, one free), R O’Dwyer, B O’Rorke, D Kelly, Ross O’Carroll, C Clinton (0-1 each).
Scorers for Rathdowney-Errill: R King (0-13, 10 frees), T Dowling, P Purcell, J Purcell (0-2 each), D King, E Meagher, E Burke (0-1 each).
KILMACUD CROKES: M Collins; N Corcoran, Rory O’Carroll, J Clinton; C MacGabhann, J Dougan, B O’Carroll; D Mulligan, D Kelly; Ross O’Carroll, R O’Dwyer, J Sweeney; C Conway, S McGrath, B O’Rorke.
Subs: R Murphy for B O’Carroll (40), B Mulligan for MacGabhann (44), O O’Rorke for B O’Rorke (49), C Clinton for B Mulligan (70), J Burke for D Mulligan (73), P Bergin for McGrath (75).
RATHDOWNEY-ERRILL: N Brennan; A Delaney, B Campion, J Corrigan; J Fitzpatrick, P Mahon, L O’Connell; S Dollard, P Purcell; J Purcell, J Ryan, E Meagher; M Kavanagh, R King, T Dowling.
Subs: D King for Meagher (h/t), D Bowe for Ryan (37), L Tynan for Kavanagh (57), Kavanagh for D King (70), E Burke for Tynan (h/t e/t).
Referee: P O’Dwyer (Carlow).