Mannion magic wears down brave Tones

Kilmacud Crokes 1-13

Wolfe Tones 1-09

Tomas O’Reilly bursts past Gavin McCoy and Craig Lowndes (Dunboyne)

Following his side’s victory over perennial bridesmaids St Jude’s in the Dublin SFC Final last month, Kilmacud Crokes manager Robbie Brennan opined that it was unlikely Paul Mannion would don the county colours again. However, it’s likely blues boss Dessie Farrell will at least attempt a persuasion operation given the form the stylish forward has been in since the latter stages of their county championship and which he carried on again here.

Though of little consolation as the Stillorgan outfit yet again mastered Meath representatives in Pairc Tailteann, Wolfe Tones gave their highly vaunted opponents as good as they are likely to get by way of a challenge in the province. Only to come unstuck when their fulcrum Cian Ward departed via a second yellow card brandished by the obfuscating Longford referee Patrick Maguire. They seem to have an endless supply of them down there.

Thus, the Meath title holders had to play the last 16 minutes a man short. And it was at that stage Mannion – arguably the most talented individual footballer in the country – began to turn the screw for the capital’s double winners.

Paul Mannion was the difference between the sides

Tones had opened the brighter with Alan Callaghan and Padraic Diamond holding their own at midfield, the latter pointing twice. However, a fortuitous goal from Kilmacud midfielder Ben Shovlin opened the first bit of daylight between the sides. Not for the first time this year though, Michael McDermott’s side confounded expectations when Cian O’Neill netted into the Hospital goal and points from Ward and Diamond’s second gem restored parity.

The visitors finished the first half the stronger as pointed frees from Mannion and Tom Fox gave them a 1-05 to 1-03 advantage they probably just about deserved. Once more there was little between the sides in the early stages but once the men from Kilberry had their talisman very harshly ‘gated’, the former Dublin star et al used the space accruing and all their undoubted class to circumnavigate a genuine and sturdy challenge presented by the locals and advance to a meeting with Portarlington of Laois.

Fogra: Between playing and managing, this was the third time Robbie Brennan experienced victory over Meath Champions in the Leinster Club SFC. Twice against his in-laws and now home club St Peter’s, Dunboyne, whilst yesterday’s conquest was of the outfit for whom his father Pat was a stylish half back in the 1970s. This corner remains hopeful that someday he can be convinced to give the locals a dig out again!

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