Dr Crokes see off Corofin to set up All Ireland final with Slaughtneil
Dr Crokes 2-11 Corofin 0-8
Dr Crokes may finally be able to emulate the achievements of the side which brought the All-Ireland SFC club title back to Killarney 25 years ago, after they saw off the challenge of the 2015 champions in an exciting semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.
And it was very much players unable to break into Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s Kerry side who fashioned the win, with Kieran O’Leary tormenting Corofin with five points from play in the opening half and then Daithi Casey soloing more than half the field to set up the decisive goal.
Corofin were always chasing the game after Dr Crokes made a blistering start with three points in the opening three minutes, two of them from O’Leary.
It took Corofin ten minutes to get their first score, an effort from Ian Burke but they struggled to get the fluency which saw them canter through the Galway and Connacht championships.
In contrast, Dr Crokes moved the ball well and O’Leary was in top form with some lethal finishing.
But he warned afterwards that they have nothing won yet, even if they are within an hour of emulating the achievements of the 1992 side.
“It’s brilliant to get through but we have nothing won yet. Now we need to work hard and get ready for the final.
“There is still a lot of hard work ahead of us but we are just delighted to be in the final,” he said.
O’Leary, dropped from the Kerry squad last summer, kicked five points from play in the opening half to send the Kerry champions into an All-Ireland final showdown with Slaughtneil on St Patrick’s Day.
And he also set up Gavin O’Shea for the opening goal to send them on the way to victory.
His exploits saw Dr Crokes lead by double scores at the break as they turned around with a 1-7 to 0-5 advantage.
The goal came when O’Leary set up O’Shea — son of manager Pat — and his shot dipped into the roof of the net four minutes from the interval.
Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper and Daithi Casey tacked on pointed frees in the opening two minutes of the second-half.
But Corofin, All-Ireland champions two years ago, 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.
But then Casey 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 to set up a final date with Slaughtneil of Derry.
Scorers – Dr Crokes: K O’Leary 0-5, J Kiely & G O’Shea 1-0, D Casey 0-2 (0-2f), C Cooper & S Murphy 0-1 (0-1f), B Looney & T Brosnan 0-1.
Corofin: G Sice 0-2 (0-2f), J Leonard 0-2 (0-1f), 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 (half-time), 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).
Referee: Ciaran Branagan (Down).