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Kilmacud Crokes are the first club to the Leinster senior football three-in-a-row. Ken Sutton/INPHO
Match Report

Shane Walsh stars with 1-8 to deliver historic Leinster treble for Kilmacud Crokes

The All-Ireland holders beat Naas by a flattering seven points in Croke Park.

Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin) 1-14

Naas (Kildare) 0-10

Paul Keane reports from Croke Park

A HISTORIC THREE-in-a-row of Leinster club SFC titles for Kilmacud Crokes, a heartbreaking three-in-a-row of provincial defeats to the Dublin side for heartbroken Naas.

That was the story that emerged from Croke Park following a flattering seven-point Leinster final win for All-Ireland title holders Kilmacud Crokes.

These sides know eachother inside out having previously met in the 2021 final and at the quarter-final stage last year with Crokes winning those games by seven and nine-point margins respectively.

Shane Walsh’s 1-8 haul was significant this time as they piled even more misery on the Kildare men though with 60 minutes on the clock and Crokes leading by just 0-12 to 0-10 it was genuinely anyone’s game.

Robbie Brennan’s side hadn’t scored from play in the second-half at that stage but impressively reeled off 1-2 in stoppage time, including 1-1 from Galway All-Star Walsh, to win with plenty to spare.

Aside from becoming the first ever club to win a Leinster three-in-a-row, they have also moved to the top of the provincial roll of honour on seven titles with Portlaoise and St Vincent’s.

shane-cunningham-and-paul-mannion-tackle-alex-beirne Shane Cunningham and Paul Mannion tackle Alex Beirne. Ken Sutton / INPHO Ken Sutton / INPHO / INPHO

They will return to action on 6/7 January for an All-Ireland semi-final clash with the Ulster champions. That could yet be a mouthwatering rematch with Glen, whom Crokes overcame in controversial circumstances in last year’s final.

It all got away from Naas badly in the closing minutes with key forward Alex Beirne sent off for a second yellow card offence.

Crokes approached the game on a 19-game winning streak in championship football, stretching all the way back to their early 2022 All-Ireland final defeat to Kilcoo.

It was only a late, late goal that suckered the Stillorgan men on that occasion too and, had they held out, they’d have been coming into this one with 30 wins on the bounce.

They were considerable favourites as a result and while they conceded the opening score of the game, a Dermot Hanafin score for Naas, they led by the seventh minute and were on level terms or leading for the majority of the game.

brian-sheehy-celebrates-with-shane-walsh Brian Sheehy celebrates with Shane Walsh. Ken Sutton / INPHO Ken Sutton / INPHO / INPHO

Boss Brennan initially named Dublin midfielder Craig Dias on the bench but, along with former Offaly forward Shane Horan, who wore number 19, they were added to the lineup in place of James Murphy and Anthony Quinn.

That necessitated a formation reshuffle and Rory O’Carroll, wearing number nine, dropped to defence to allow Dias partner up with dual player Brian Sheehy at midfield.

Naas made three alterations to their lineup, drafting in county man Darragh Kirwan, Conor McCarthy and Sean Hanafin.

O’Carroll picked up Sean Hanafin initially while rising star full-back Theo Clancy, available again after injury, tracked Kirwan.

That was a tough task and the ultra talented Kirwan, strong on both feet, escaped his man for three Naas points in the opening half.

Current Kildare half-forward Alex Beirne had a couple of half chances for Naas goals but blazed over on both occasions.

The scores came a little easier for Crokes and while Galway star Shane Walsh filled his boots, clipping four points in the opening half, Dias was the unsung hero.

eoin-doyle-dejected-at-the-end-of-the-game Naas and Eoin Doyle came up short in Saturday's decider. Ken Sutton / INPHO Ken Sutton / INPHO / INPHO

The two-time All-Ireland medallist with Dublin, in 2011 and 2023, won two frees that Walsh converted and Dias clipped a point too while Paul Mannion was also on the mark with a trademark converted free.

Naas corner-back Mark Maguire picked up Walsh at the start but McCarthy ended up moving onto him as the underdogs struggled to deal with his craft and movement.

It all added up to a 0-9 to 0-7 half-time lead for Crokes who maintained a two-point advantage at the end of a tense third quarter, 0-11 to 0-9.

Naas were probably the better side in that period but cursed their bad luck and poor handling on a couple of occasions. They twice hit the post with point attempts, Cathal Daly fumbled the ball with the goal at his mercy on another occasion while Beirne later intercepted the ball and appeared set to create an easy score only to drop the ball.

Kilmacud Crokes scorers: Shane Walsh 1-8 (0-5f), Shane Horan 0-2, Paul Mannion 0-1 (0-1f), Craig Dias 0-1, Dara Mullin 0-1, Rory O’Carroll 0-1.

Naas scorers: Darragh Kirwan 0-4 (0-2f), Alex Beirne 0-4, Dermot Hanafin 0-1, Paul McDermott 0-1.

Kilmacud Crokes 

1. David Higgins

4. Dan O’Brien, 3. Theo Clancy, 9. Rory O’Carroll

10. Cian O’Connor, 6. Andrew McGowan, 7. Mark O’Leary

24. Craig Dias, 8. Brian Sheehy

19. Shane Horan, 13. Paul Mannion, 14. Dara Mullin

12. Hugh Kenny, 11. Shane Cunningham (Captain), 15. Shane Walsh

Substitutes:

  • 18. Dan Murphy for Kenny h/t
  • 23. Callum Pearson for Mullin 38
  • 22. Luke Ward for Cunningham 50
  • 21. Darragh Dempsey for O’Connor 50
  • 2. James Murphy for Dias 58

Naas

1. Luke Mullins

4. Mark Maguire, 18. Conor McCarthy, 2. Cathal Daly

3. Brian Byrne

5. Paddy McDermott, 6. Eoin Doyle (Captain), 7. Eoghan Prizeman

8. Paul McDermott, 9. James Burke

10. Alex Beirne, 14. Dermot Hanafin, 12. Jack McKevitt

30. Sean Hanafin, 20. Darragh Kirwan

Substitutes:

  • 13. Kevin Cummins for Paul McDermott 50
  • 17. Tom Browne for Prizeman 50
  • 23. Neil Aherne for Dermot Hanafin 58
  • 29. Sean Cullen for McKevitt 60

Referee: David Hickey (Carlow).

Written by Paul Keane. The Journal publishes the biggest breaking news in Irish and international sport but for all of The 42′s insightful analysis and sharp sportswriting, subscribe here.

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