Kilmacud Crokes canter to successful defence of Leinster football crown
Leinster Club SFC final: Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin) 1-12 The Downs (Westmeath) 0-8
A SHANE Walsh inspired Kilmacud set up an All-Ireland semi-final showdown with either Newcastle West or Kerins O'Rahilly's thanks to comfortable victory over Downs at Croke Park yesterday.
The Dubliners cruised through the second-half as they had the game wrapped up by half-time at Headquarters, going in for the break with a 1-9 to 0-1 lead.
In truth, the Westmeath champions froze in their first Leinster final appearance since 1972, allowing Kilmacud a procession in their first successful defence of the provincial title.
Galway's Allstar forward Walsh was the outstanding player throughout for the Stillorgan men, opening the scoring in the third minute after playing a neat one-two with Craig Dias. Seconds later, he dropped an effort short from wide on the left, but Shane Cunningham read the flight of the ball brilliantly to race in and redirect it to the back of the net with his fist.
Luke Loughlin opened the Westmeath champions' account with a 12th minute free but their next score would not arrive until the 43rd minute, during which time Crokes hit 0-10 without reply.
Full-back Rory O'Carroll even roamed up the pitch to get in on the scoring action for Crokes during that spell, while Aidan Jones also kicked over a wonderful point from play.
It was left to man of the match Walsh to grab the score of the day, however, via a gloriously curled free from out near the Cusack Stand sideline, between the 13- and 20-metre lines. That score was the last of the opening period, sending Crokes in 11 points to the good at the turnaround.
Walsh emerged to kick over the first two points of the second-half, both frees – one off the right, one off the left, to make it 1-11 to 0-1 after 37 minutes.
The Downs finally got their second score of the game when Loughlin pointed with a nice left-footed point in the 43rd minute and they then scored six of the last seven points in the match as Crokes took it easy in the face of a strong wind.
The Dubliners now await the winners of that Munster decider, with their All-Ireland semi-final to be played the weekend of January 7/8.