Buckley hits stride as Crokes stroll into decider
Dr Crokes 2-19 Kilmurry Ibrickane 0-10
Kilmurry Ibrickane travelled to Killarney in the belief that they could pitch up in the Kingdom and make reasonable claims that there was nothing to fear.
After all, they had players on their panel who boasted two Munster medals and who had beaten Kerry opposition in Kerins O'Rahillys in 2009. They were well beaten by Dr Crokes last year, but they could point to the fact that they had come close when the sides met in 2011 and 2012.
However, all optimism among the large travelling Clare support for this Munster club semi-final yesterday was quickly wiped out.
In truth, Dr Crokes had the game wrapped up by half-time. By then they enjoyed a 1-11 to 0-4 lead, but even that cushion hardly did their dominance justice. Kieran O'Leary, Gavin White and Brian Looney all spurned decent goal chances in a one-sided first-half.
The Kilmurry goal was living a charmed life early on, but it couldn't last. With Dr Crokes leading 0-5 to 0-2, they finally got the breakthrough.
The Clare men were struggling badly on their own kick-out and Johnny Buckley, who was dominant for the Kerry men, took a fine mark to set the wheels in motion and his quick give-and-go gave him a clean run on the Kilmurry goal. Ian McInerney would pull off a fine save from White later in the half, but he could do nothing about Buckley's low effort.
Crokes didn't have it all their own way and suffered a setback when goalkeeper Shane Murphy was forced off with a head injury, while Ambrose O'Donovan was shown a black card.
Kilmurry rounded off the scoring when Martin McMahon burst a hole in the Crokes defence, but he could only manage a point when a goal was on.
Aidan Moloney's men managed the first two points of the second-half, but it didn't look like anything more than window dressing.
Mark McCarthy was Kilmurry's best player by a distance and his three second-half points came against the run of play.
Even the bizarre sight of Fionn Fitzgerald opting for a cross-field pass in front of his own goal that screwed off his boot and went out for a '45' did little to upset the home side.
Fitzgerald would atone for that later when he made one of three consecutive blocks by Crokes players when Kilmurry threatened a goal.
And the Kerry men then swept down the field and grabbed their second major. Goalkeeper Ian McInerney fumbled a dropping ball and Kieran O'Leary was on hand to knock home from close range.
Colm Cooper became more influential at this stage, knocking over some fine points off both feet. It was academic at that stage, but Crokes could have scored much more than the 2-19 they finished with.
Cooper misplaced a pass when a goal looked on, while Micheal Burns rattled the bar with another effort.
"We are very happy with the performance overall," Dr Crokes selector Harry O'Neill said afterwards.
"In fairness the two lads in midfield gave us the platform early on and the backs created openings. Having said that, we weren't clinical enough early on.
"After 10 minutes we could have had another 2-3 on the board, which was disappointing at that stage of the game. But our lads are experienced enough and they kept plugging away."
Kilmurry Ibrickane manager Moloney didn't pull any punches afterwards, admitting his side were outclassed from start to finish.
And he warned that Crokes are an even better side than the one that beat them in Munster last year on their way to glory on St Patrick's Day.
"This is a different team even again from last year, they have moved up a level again and they are going to take a lot of stopping," Moloney said.
"They have some super athletes out there that we couldn't cope with, especially in the first-half. Without a doubt they are fabulous side and we didn't have answers for them today."
Dr Crokes move into a Munster final against Nemo Rangers, but the games are coming thick and fast. They have the not insignificant matter of a clash with rivals Legion in the East Kerry championship next weekend before they can think about the Cork men.
"Obviously (the schedule) is a worry because at this time of year pitches are that bit heavier, so it is more difficult and the chances of picking up knocks are strains is greater. At the same time, if you are playing matches in October and November you are in a very happy place," added O'Neill.
SCORERS - Dr Crokes: C Cooper 0-9 (6f), K O'Leary 1-1, J Buckley 1-0, M Burns, G O'Shea 0-2 each, T Brosnan, G White, D O'Leary, D Casey, B Looney 0-1 each.
Kilmurry Ibrickane: M McCarthy 0-4, K Sexton 0-2 (1 '45, 1f), N Hickey, M McMahon, D Coughlan, I McInerney (1f) 0-1 each.
Dr Crokes: S Murphy; J Payne, M Moloney, L Quinn; D O'Leary, F Fitzgerald, G White; J Buckley, A O'Donovan; M Burns, G O'Shea, B Looney; C Cooper, D Casey, K O'Leary Subs: T Brosnan for O'Donovan (16 BC), J O'Leary for Murphy (24), S Doolan for Looney (45), P Clarke for K O'Leary (50), J Lyne for Quinn (52), E Brosnan for Cooper (55).
Kilmurry Ibrickane: I McInerney; E Talty, D Hickey, M Killeen; S Moloney, M McMahon, S Hickey; K Sexton, K King; N Hickey, D Couglan, M Horgan; M O'Dwyer, M McCarthy, E Coughlan Subs: N Downes for M O'Dwyer (HT), P O'Dwyer for Coughlan (45), T Lernihan for Hogan (50), E Bracken for S Moloney (52), D Callinan for Talty (57), D Sexton for King (58).
Ref - S Lonergan (Tipperary)
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