Kilmacud dig deep to see off Portarlington for Leinster final berth

December 18, 2021

Portarlington's Cathal Bennett and Dara Mullin of Kilmacud Crokes ©INPHO/Lorraine O'Sullivan

Kilmacud Crokes will face Naas in next month’s Leinster club SFC final after coming from behind to see off Portarlington by 1-11 to 0-12 at Croke Park.

The Dublin champions summoned a huge second-half display at headquarters and it was Cian O’Connor’s goal with 13 minutes to go which proved crucial in getting them over the line and into a second provincial final since 2018.

Portarlington had been superb in the first-half in building up a 0-7 to 0-3 lead as they looked to tear up the script against their fancied opponents whom kicked 17 wides over the hour.

However, the Laois side couldn’t half Crokes’ instant momentum after the turnaround as Callum Pearson and Paul Mannion got the capital men motoring after Keith Bracken had made it a five-point game early in the restart.

Pearson (2) and Mannion kept the points coming for Crokes to reduce the margin to two and that difference would stand until O’Connor got in behind and fired a brilliant finish to the O’Moore County champions’ net.

To their credit, Portarlington recovered well from the blow as substitute Stephen O’Neill sailed over a steadying score before Adam Ryan had their noses in front again.

Having had a quiet first half, Mannion curled over two classy efforts to usher Crokes back into the lead and further points from Shane Cunningham and Dara Mullin would erase a Colm Murphy free, leaving the Laois men two short in the end.

Crokes now face Naas on January 9th after the Kildare champions edged an extra time thriller against Shelmaliers of Wexford earlier at HQ.

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