Thursday 29 June 2017

Cooper on cusp of elusive club medal

Dr Crokes 2-11 Corofin 0-8

Colm Cooper in action for Dr Crokes during Saturday’s All-Ireland club SFC semi-final against Corofin at the Gaelic Grounds. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Colm Cooper in action for Dr Crokes during Saturday’s All-Ireland club SFC semi-final against Corofin at the Gaelic Grounds. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

John Fallon

Dr Crokes, having lost their last three All-Ireland club semi-finals, will hope to bridge the 25-year gap since their sole national success when they take on Slaughtneil on St Patrick's Day.

And selector Harry O'Neill believes the harsh lessons learned from those semi-final losses in recent years has made this crop more battle-hardened.

"Well I think our panel is probably stronger, in fairness, and I mean you have to lose something to win something and if you can't learn from the experiences that you're putting down at the moment which is having been beaten in three All-Ireland semi-finals then there's something wrong with us."

Killer

They led from start to finish at the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday and struck for killer goals at crucial stages to see off the challenge of the 2015 All-Ireland champions.

Kieran O'Leary and Daithi Casey, two players surplus to requirements with the county team, were the primary pillars for this success with Colm 'Gooch' Cooper adding flashes of brilliance.

Corofin's Brendan Power in action against Dr Crokes' Kieran O'Leary. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Corofin's Brendan Power in action against Dr Crokes' Kieran O'Leary. Photo: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

He is now just 60 minutes away from winning the one major medal which has eluded him in his glittering career.

And O'Neill said it would be more than fitting if 'Gooch' was to finally taste All-Ireland club glory at this stage of his career.

"Colm has been fantastic for us all through the years and you know, obviously he's 33 years of age now but it would be great for Colm if we could get up the steps of Croke Park. But look that's another day's work," added O'Neill.

O'Leary was outstanding in the opening half, kicking 0-5 from play and setting Gavin O'Shea up for the opening goal ten minutes from the break, with the shot from the manager's son fortuitously dipping into the top corner.

Dr. Crokes players including Johnny Buckley and Fionn Fitzgerald celebrate after the game. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Dr. Crokes players including Johnny Buckley and Fionn Fitzgerald celebrate after the game. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

That helped them lead by double scores at the break, with pointed frees from Cooper and Casey extending that to 1-9 to 0-5 less than two minutes after the restart. But the Galway champions rallied and a Jason Leonard point was followed by a brace from Dylan Wall which cut the gap to four going into the final quarter.

However, Casey then soloed from deep inside his own half to set up sub Jordan Kiely for the decisive score, with the sub firing low to the net ten minutes from time.

But Corofin manager Kevin O'Brien said they would recover from this defeat and continue to be a force. "They'll be there again in 2017 I've no doubt about that. When you get to this level, to the top four in the country, teams just have it on the day. You go back to two years ago we probably had a bit of luck on the day and that's the way it works. We won't be going anywhere I guarantee you that."

Scorers - Dr Crokes: K O'Leary 0-5, J Kiely & G O'Shea 1-0, D Casey 0-2 (2f), C Cooper & S Murphy 0-1 (f), B Looney & T Brosnan 0-1. Corofin: G Sice 0-2 (2f), J Leonard 0-2 (1f), D Wall 0-2, I Burke & Michael Farragher 0-1.

Dr Crokes - S Murphy; J Payne, M Moloney, F Fitzgerald; D O'Leary, G White, L Quinn; A O'Donovan, A O'Sullivan; J Buckley, G O'Shea, B Looney; C Cooper, D Casey, K O'Leary. Subs: S Doolan for White (29, blood sub), White for Doolan (h-t), M Burns for Looney (42), J Kiely for O'Shea (48), T Brosnan for Casey (54), Doolan for O'Leary (59), M Milner for Cooper (63).

Corofin - B Power; C Silke, K Fitzgerald, L Silke; K Molloy, C McGrath, C Cunningham; D Burke, R Steede; G Sice, D Wall, J Leonard; I Burke, Michael Farragher, M Lundy. Subs: G Higgins for C Silke (36), A Burke for Molloy (38), B O'Donovan for Cunningham (49), C Brady for Wall (51).

Ref - C Branagan (Down)

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