"Clutch moments, big games, he's done that all his career" 1 year ago

"Clutch moments, big games, he's done that all his career"

PORTALINGTON 0-12 KILMACUD 1-11

The Laois champions looked to have timed their late charged perfectly but Paul Mannion and Kilamcud Crokes had a killer response.

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The final of the Leinster Club Senior Football Championship will be fought out between the Dublin champions and Naas after an afternoon of high drama at Croke Park.

Not long after the Naas celebrations had died down, on came Kilmacud and Portalington for their semi-final. The Laois side were tigerish in the first half and kept Crokes restricted to 0-3 in the first half.

Kilmacud came flying out of the traps, though, in the second half and pressed the Portalington kick-outs to great success. That press and some slick hand-passing teed up sub Can O'Connor for a shot on goal. He fired in from an acute angle and it was game on.

The biggest work-on for Kilmacud, heading into the final, would be cutting down their wides [17] and letting opponents off the hook. Still, they looked to have enough in it to close out the game from two clear.

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Portalington found another level, though, and some lovely scores twice had them level and then, with nine minutes to go, saw them go 0-11 to 1-7 ahead. It was a slender advantage, but it did not last long.

Cian O’Connor of Kilmacud Crokes shoots to score his side's first goal, despite pressure from Portarlington's Cathal Bennett, at Croke Park. (Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile)

Paul Mannion comes to the party

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Having been kept quiet for much of the game, Paul Mannion stepped up with two lovely points in the 51st and 53rd minutes. In the the commentary booth, Ger Canning was [like the rest of us] suitably impressed. On Mannion, he declared:

"Clutch moments, big games, he's done that all his career."

Mannion and Shane Cunningham, who added to the late Kilmacud lead, both finished with 0-3 while Darragh Mullin got their final point of the game. Colin Murphy [0-4] put over an added time point for Portalington before the Dubliners got particularly cynical in the dying embers of the contest.

It came to a final pump in towards the Crokes goal but it Rory O'Carroll was back there with goalkeeper Conor Ferris and the danger was averted. It had been tighter than many expected but Crokes marched on.

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"Look what it means to everyone," said Kilmacud's Dan O'Brien to RTE, after the game. "It's absolutely unbelievable.

"We said, at half-time, to keep everything steady and we'd pull away in the second half. We did just that... every game has been a battle, but that will stand to us."

Robbie Brennan's side face Naas early in the new year, while many watching Dublin fans will be hoping Paul Mannion returns to inter-county football in 2022, too.


 

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