Kilmacud Crokes 1-12 The Downs 0-08

Five months after lighting up Croke Park for Galway in the All-Ireland final but walking away empty handed, Shane Walsh produced another masterclass at GAA headquarters and this time took the silverware.

The All-Star forward contributed 0-09 - the same as he tallied against Kerry last July - as Crokes secured back-to-back AIB Leinster club titles for the first time

The gifted attacker, who transferred from his native Kilkerrin-Clonberne to the south Dublin club earlier in the year, did the bulk of the damage in the first-half as Robbie Brennan's side surged 11 points clear at that stage.

Walsh also scored all three of Crokes' second-half points, nudging them 13 clear at one stage in the third quarter, a giant cushion that allowed them to absorb a stronger second-half performance from The Downs.

In their first Leinster final in exactly 50 years, The Downs were once again beaten by Dublin opposition and will reflect on that disastrous first-half, when they scored just one point, as their undoing.

Shane Walsh of Kilmacud Crokes takes on Mark Kelly of The Downs

From Crokes' perspective, it was the second game running that they held the opposition scoreless from play in the first-half.

They will play the Munster champions - Kerins O'Rahillys or Newcastle West - in the All-Ireland semi-finals early in the new year.

In his seventh game for Crokes, and with 0-25 already to his name, Walsh was always likely to be the main man and proved to be just that in the opening half as Crokes built up a near unassailable double-digit lead by the interval.

The Footballer of the Year nominee opened the scoring in the third minute following a neat exchange of passes with Craig Dias who pointed and, shortly after, Walsh dropped a point attempt short which allowed captain Shane Cunningham to fist in the opening goal.

Westmeath's Tailteann Cup winning forward Luke Loughlin responded with a point for The Downs but it was their only one in the entire half. They didn't score from open play until the 44th minute as that early Loughlin score came from a converted free following Hugh Kenny's foul on Conor Coughlan.

As the weather worsened and the rain sheeted in across GAA Headquarters on a cold diagonal wind that blew down and across the field from the Hill 16 End, favouring Crokes in the opening half, the Dubliners appeared to grow in confidence.

Walsh curled over two terrific points to stretch the lead before Cian O'Connor, one of two late additions to the Crokes lineup, boomed another over from the right wing.

Referee Maurice Deegan is accidentally knocked to the ground during the game

Aidan Jones got on the scoresheet with a kick from the same area and, point by point, The Downs must have felt like the game was quickly slipping away from them.

Crokes reeled off 1-08 in total without response before Maurice Deegan's half-time whistle drew a halt to proceedings, leaving the Glenalbyn outfit 1-09 to 0-01 up.

The Downs' cause wasn't helped by the apparent knee injury which forced joint captain and centre-back Mark Kelly out of the game late in the first-half.

Back-to-back Walsh points from frees in the third quarter left Crokes on the cusp of victory and their sixth provincial crown.

They did have to play into a stiff wind though and The Downs took advantage to reel off two separate bursts of four points and, later, three points.

It was impressive resolve from the Westmeath side, who got a kick from their bench in the form of four points from Tom Tuite, Dean Egerton and Harry Caulfield.

But they never looked like reeling in a thoroughly efficient Crokes side that were watched from the sideline by injured three-time All-Star Paul Mannion.

Kilmacud Crokes: Conor Ferris; Micheal Mullin, Theo Clancy, Dan O'Brien; Aidan Jones (0-01), Rory O'Carroll (0-01), Andrew McGowan; Craig Dias, Ben Shovlin; Shane Horan, Shane Walsh (0-09, 0-05f, 0-01 45), Cian O'Connor (0-01); Hugh Kenny, Shane Cunningham (1-00), Dara Mullin.

Subs: Tom Fox for Horan 42, Paraic Purcell for Cunningham 45, Cillian O'Shea for O'Connor 51, Luke Ward for Mullin 59, Jeff Kenny for H Kenny 59-full-time, blood.

The Downs: Trevor Martin; Eanna Burke, Peter Murray, Darragh Egerton; Conor Coughlan, Mark Kelly, Joseph Moran; Charlie Drumm, Niall Mitchell (0-01, 0-01f); Ian Martin, Ciaran Nolan, Johnathan Lynam; Andrew Kilmartin, Luke Loughlin (0-03, 0-01f), Kevin O'Sullivan.

Subs: Oisin Murphy for Kelly 25, Dean Egerton (0-01) for Kilmartin 36, Tom Tuite (0-02, 0-01f) for O'Sullivan 47, Liam Moran for Martin 55, Harry Caulfield (0-01) for Lynam 60.

Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois)