St Brendan's down but not out as All-Ireland champions cut loose
County SFC Round 2A: Dr Crokes 7-17 St Brendan's 0-16
There's no other way of putting this: St Brendan's were hammered and hammered again by Dr Crokes when these two Round One winners met in Lewis Road last Saturday, but you didn't need us to tell you that if you'd looked at the scoreline at the top of this report.
A 22-point win / defeat is a hammering and there's no sugar-coating that. And logic tells you that if a team can beat another by 22 points, scoring seven goals in the process, they certainly could have won by a lot more had they a mind to.
But let's have a little perspective. St Brendan's - a team whose ranking was such that they had to qualify for the county championship proper - were playing the All-Ireland club champions. Think about that for a moment. Eight weeks ago Dr Crokes were deservedly crowned the best football team on the island. Consider if St Brendans, for whatever reason, were scheduled to play Slaughtneil or St Vincents or Corofin last weekend. What outcome and scoreline might we have forecast?
As impressive as St Brendans looked in that preliminary round match against Shannon Rangers (how must they feel?) and in that first round win over Kilcummin, this was altogether different. This was Stoke City going up against Real Madrid. Carl Frampton stepping into the ring against Anthony Joshua. The ubiquitous David versus Goliath, only this time David never stood a chance of landing any sort of blow, let alone a fatal one.
Best thing both teams here can do is park this game and move one. St Brendans won't be winning a county championship this year but if they put this aberration behind them and refocus their efforts on their Round Three fixture in mid-July they are capable of reaching the quarter-finals, which would be considered a decent campaign in the main.
As for Dr Crokes, they will have learned nothing from this game they didn't already know. The usual suspects did their usual thing. Daithi Casey scored a goal and three points. As did Kieran O'Leary. Colm Cooper bettered them by a point. Gavin White embellished his reputation as an attacking defender with a goal and a point. Others chipped in with points. Johnny Buckley, nursing himself back from a knee problem, played 30 minutes and will be all the better for it.
If Crokes manager Pat O'Shea wants to take the old 'something to work on' back to the training ground it could be the concession of 16 points to a St Brendans team that really shouldn't have been allowed to take so much from the game. To that end Ivan Parker was central, scoring seven points from play. To his credit, the Churchill man looked hungry for the fight from the get-go, and he was still slinging over excellent scores towards the end long after the white flag had been run up the pole. One could be uncharitable and suggest that Crokes had eased off considerably by then in the defending stakes, but the quality of Parker's point taking is something the one positive the divisional team should take away and cling to like a life-raft.
Jack Barry, absent for the win over Kicummin, was stationed in midfield, kicked two points and generally busied himself, and did Alan O'Donoghue and David O'Callaghan in front of him, but the grim facts are simply that a reasonably talented and drilled divisional team went to the home of the All-Ireland club champions and got a football lesson.
Remarkably, Crokes first goal didn't arrive until the 17th minute when Daithi Casey converted a penalty after Jordan Kiely was adjudged to have been fouled. That made it 1-7 to 0-3 and four minutes later White teed up Cooper for a tap-in goal to make it 2-8 to 0-3.
Crokes were leading 2-10 to 0-5 when Casey's solo run ended with a lay off to Cooper and another close-range finish, and just before the interval Cooper turned provider for White, whose goal made it 4-12 to 0-5 at half-time, with O'Callaghan (3) and Parker accounting for the visitors' scores.
The second half played out with all the inevitability that the half-time score suggested it would, with goals from O'Leary (2) and Casey continuing the rout, while Parker carried the fight for St Brendans, his five points from play the silver lining on a very black cloud.
Dr Crokes: Shane Murphy (0-1 '45'), John Payne, Michael Moloney, Gavin White (1-1), Shane Doolan, Fionn Fitzgerald (0-1), David O'Leary, Ambrose O'Donovan, Alan O'Sullivan (0-1), Gavin O'Shea (0-1), Daithi Casey (2-3; 1-0 pen, 0-1f), Brian Looney (0-1), Colm Cooper (2-4, 0-1f), Jordan Kiely (0-1), Kieran O'Leary (2-3). Subs: Johnny Buckley for A O'Donovan (ht), Mike Milner for S Doolan (ht), Chris Brady for G O'Shea (41 min), Jason Lyne for F Fitzgerald (41 min), Paul Clarke for B Looney (48 min), Cillian Fitzgerald for M Moloney (54 min).
St Brendans: Eoghan O'Brien (Churchill), Luke Mulligan (St Pats), Laurence Bastible (John Mitchels), Trevor Wallace (Ardfert), Michael Griffin (Na Gaeil), Andrew Barry (Na Gaeil), Kieran O'Donovan (Na Gaeil), Jack Barry (0-2) (Na Gaeil), Liam O'Sullivan (St Pats), David Griffin (Ardfert), Alan O'Donoghue (0-1) (John Mitchels), David O'Callaghan (0-3, 2f) (St Pats), Ivan Parker (0-8, 1f) (Churchill), Cillian Fitzgerald (0-2) (Churchill), Diarmuid Herlihy (Na Gaeil). Subs: Brendan Poff (St Brendans) for K O'Donovan (ht), Paul McMahon (St Pats) for M Griffin (41 min), Kevin Shanahan (Ardfert) for D Griffin (41 min), JJ Prior (Churchill) for T Wallace (43 min), Ian McCarthy (Na Gaeil) for D Herlihy (45 min), Paudie Carroll (Ardfert) for L O'Sullivan (48 min).
Referee: Peter Lyons (Cromane).