Dublin's Kilmacud Crokes clash with first-time Connacht champions Padraig Pearses for place in All-Ireland final
AIB All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship semi-final: Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin) v Padraig Pearses (Roscommon) (today, Kingspan Breffni, 5pm, live on TG4)
By Andy Watters
ROOKIES Padraig Pearses get their first taste of All-Ireland club competition when they meet Dublin powerhouses Kilmacud Crokes in the second of today's semi-finals.
Fresh from winning their first-ever Connacht crown, the Roscommon outfit now get the opportunity to test themselves against a Kilmacud side chasing a third title at this level.
Paul Mannion has been puppet master in the Leinster champions' attack and the former Dublin All-Ireland winner has pulled the strings, as well as getting among the scores, throughout this campaign.
The Stillorglin outfit came through an intense examination of their credentials in the Dublin final. They trailed St Jude's by five points in the second half but a Cian O'Connor goal turned the game and Callum Pearson's injury-time score saw the Croke's nick it 1-7 to 1-6.
After a 1-13 to 1-9 victory over Meath's Wolfe Tone's, another O'Connor goal got the Dublin champions out of hot water in the Leinster semi-final against Portarlington and Kilmacud laid the ghosts of their shock loss to Longford's Mullinalaghta in 2018 to rest by beating Kildare's Naas by seven points in the Leinster final.
That was their fifth success at provincial level and their first since 2010 and now the Dubliners have set their sights on a third success at All-Ireland level (both previous titles came against Ulster opposition: Derry's Bellaghy in 1995 and Armagh's Crossmaglen in 2009).
The country boys from Creagh in south Roscommon stand in the way of the city side. An emerging force in Roscommon, the Pearses won their first county title in 2019 and went on to reach the Connacht final that year but lost out to Galway's Corofin, the eventual All-Ireland winners.
Wiser for the experience, they've gone a step further this year by beating new Galway champions Mountbellew–Moylough albeit in controversial circumstances in a tempestuous Connacht semi-final.
With the game all-square deep in injury-time, referee Jerome Henry didn't award the Galway champions a forward mark and, as red mist descended, the Pearses broke and kicked the winning score. Referee Henry blew the full-time whistle and was immediately set upon by irate players from the losing team.
The Roscommon champions carried on regardless and made the most of some poor finishing from Mayo champions Knockmore to win their first provincial title. Roscommon forward Hubert Darcy found the back of the Knockmore net with a penalty but the undoubted man of the match was Paul Carey who registered eight points including five from play.
Reaching an All-Ireland final would be an ideal way for the club to celebrate their 60th anniversary but Kilmacud should have the experience and quality to progress.