Crokes take Leinster title

Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin) 2-07 Rhode (Offaly) 1-07

Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin) 2-07 Rhode (Offaly) 1-07

Second-half goals from Mark Davoren and Brian Kavanagh ensured that 14-man Kilmacud Crokes claimed the Leinster Club SFC title this afternoon at Parnell Park.

Crokes began dismally with Cian O'Sullivan sent off following a straight red card in the 14th minute.

And with Niall McNamee scoring 1-03 in the first half, Rhode took a 1-06 to 0-03 lead into the break.

But Mark Vaughan's 46th minute point put Crokes ahead for the first time, and with Davoren and Kavanagh slipping home goals, the Dublin side battled to their third provincial crown and first since 2005.

Kilmacud Crokes opted for some tactical changes before the throw-in, with their manager Paddy Carr introducing Liam Og O hEineachain instead of Ray Cosgrove, while O'Sullivan was preferred to Niall Corkery.

In ideal weather conditions, Tom Coffey's Rhode side, who were cast as rank outsiders, were keen to dismiss the underdogs' tag and got into this game from the off.

The Offaly outfit, contesting their first Leinster decider since 2006, showed no signs of nervousness early on and calmly built a 1-03 to 0-00 lead after 11 minutes.

A livelier Rhode attack gave the Crokes defence a tough time in the opening quarter, with midfielder Alan McNamee slotting over his side's first point as the Offaly champions made an impressive start.

Rhode’s second point quickly followed after Anton Sullivan capitalised on a poor Kevin Nolan clearance, with the ball finishing with Niall McNamee drilling between the posts.

And with a further point from Niall Darby, they led by 0-03 to 0-00 after nine minutes.

With Crokes on the back foot, it was not long before Rhode found the back of the net. Pascal Kellaghan and Brian Darby combined to provide the inrushing Niall McNamee with a precision pass and the corner-forward evaded three Crokes defenders to slot to the net to give his side a six-point advantage.

A Mark Vaughan point eventually got Crokes off the mark in the 13th minute, but a minute later Cian O'Sullivan saw red for the second time in the championship.

The midfielder was dismissed for a high tackle on his Rhode counterpart Anton Sullivan.

Niall McNamee continued to impress as Rhode outscored Crokes by 0-03 to 0-02 before the interval, with Joe Kilmurray performing strongly for them at full-back.

Trailing by 1-06 to 0-03 at the interval and facing into the second half with 14 men, the odds were stacked against Kilmacud.

However, with the introduction of Rory O'Carroll in defence, it steadied the Crokes ship and gave them confidence for the second period.

O'Carroll was a vital link in Crokes' path to victory as their defence became rock-solid in the second half and leaked just one point in the closing 30 minutes - another Niall McNamee score.

Crokes dominated possession on the restart with Davoren slicing through for a 35th-minute goal, with the deficit now cut to two points.

Rhode were suddenly edgy in front of the posts and when McNamee watched a free blaze off the posts, Kevin Nolan's clearance resulted in a Paul Griffin point at the opposite end.

Crokes' second goal arrived in the 48th minute after a high ball in from the right from Brian Kavanagh foiled goalkeeper Colm Masterson, who had Davoren right in his face. Kilmacud were suddenly 2-06 to 1-07 ahead.

With their defence suddenly on top, Crokes closed out the win. Vaughan adding his third point as the south Dublin outfit kept the Leinster title in the capital, following in the footsteps of last year's winners St. Vincent's.

Kilmacud Crokes: D Nestor; K Nolan, P Griffin (0-01), C Lambe; B McGrath, Ross O'Carroll, A Morrissey; D Magee, C O'Sullivan; L McBarron, P Burke, Liam Og O hEineachain (0-01); M Vaughan (0-03, 0-03f), M Davoren (1-00), B Kavanagh (1-01).

Subs used: Rory O'Carroll for C Lambe (24 mins), N Corkery for L McBarron (34), R Cosgrove (0-01) for P Burke (35), J Magee for O hEineachain (50).

Rhode: C Masterson; D Murphy, J Kilmurray, B Darby; C Heavey, D Hope, E Byrne; P Sullivan (0-01), A McNamee (0-01); N Darby (0-01, 0-01f), R Malone, G O'Connell, A Sullivan (0-01), P Kellaghan, N McNamee (1-03, 0-01f).

Subs used: P Glennon for N Darby (52 mins), J Kavanagh for Heavey (54), G Hickey for Murphy (61).

Referee: Pat Fox (Westmeath).

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