Burns helps 14-man Crokes shrug off Gooch absence
Dr Crokes 0-14 Clonmel Commercials 0-8
All-Ireland champions Dr Crokes made light of Colin Cooper's absence and their numerical disadvantage as they produced a power-packed second-half display to dismiss hosts Clonmel Commercials.
Cooper didn't start last week's Kerry final because of a slight hamstring strain, and Crokes wanted to give him a bit more time to get back to full fitness.
"Colin needs some further rehabilitation to get himself ready for the semi-final against the Clare champions," said selector Harry O'Neill.
Crokes went in as 1/6 favourties, but Commercials - the 2015 provincial champions - made a mockery of those odds as they raced into a 0-5 to 0-2 lead midway through the opening half, with Michael Quinlivan in imperious form.
In a match in which no Commercials player scored more than one point, their early scores came from backs Kevin Harney and Jamie Peters as well as midfielder Jack Kennedy and forwards Eoin Fitzgerald and Quinlivan.
The Kerry champions came back into things with three points in succession from Daithi Casey, Johnny Buckley and Tony Brosnan to tie things up by the 21st minute, but did not score again before the break as Kevin Fahey and Ross Peters gave Commercials a 0-7 to 0-5 lead.
They also had a couple of half-chances for goals, the best when Quinlivan sent a killer ball into Jack Kennedy, who saw his attempt stifled.
Commercials defended well, too, with Peters, Donal Lynch, Kevin Fahey and Harney all effective at closing down space as Dr Croke's persisted with their patient build-up play.
Brosnan started the second half with a quick point but Commercials were nearly in for a goal when Quinlivan found himself on the end of a sparkling move but saw his low shot blocked brilliantly by John Payne.
Commercials can only wonder now about what could have been had they scored that goal.
Within a minute of each other Peters (black) and Crokes' Alan O'Sullivan (red) exited the scene after falling foul of ref Kevin Murphy, as the tension increased.
But Crokes were able to draw ahead, despite being down in numbers, with points by Kieran O'Leary and sub Jordan Kiely, before Richie Gunne's short-range reply, and then powered on with five on the trot from Micheal Burns (three times), Buckley and Casey.
In fact, Commercials only scored one point in the second half, despite their extra man, and had to rue a number of wides when they badly needed scores.
Their only score, through Gunne, came in the 48th minute and left the Tipperary champions only a point behind, but that was before Dr Croke's upped the pace and pressure to build a match-winning lead.
Burns proved vital during that time, scoring three excellent points by creating space and using his speed and accuracy, while Casey's effort was a monster shot from long-range which bisected the posts. The other, from the always-dangerous Buckley, was also from a long way out and broke the Clonmel team's hearts.
Late on the home side needed a goal but rarely looked like getting one as the game slipped away from them.
There was no need, in the end, for Crokes to bring on the Gooch and he will likely return for their semi-final encounter with the Clare champions in a couple of weeks, as the Killarney men continue their search for back-to-back Munster and All-Ireland crowns.
Scorers - Dr Crokes: M Burns, D Casey (2fs) 0-3 each, J Buckley, T Brosnan 0-2 each, F Fitzgerald, K O'Leary, J Kiely, P Clarke 0-1 each. Commercials: R Peters, M Quinlivan, E Fitzgerald, J Kennedy, K Fahey, K Harney, J Peters, R Gunne 0-1 each.
Dr Crokes - S Murphy; J Payne, M Moloney, L Quinn; S Doolan , F Fitzgerald, G White; J Buckley, A O'Sullivan; M Burns, G O'Shea, B Looney; T Brosnan, D Casey, K O'Leary. Subs: J Kiely for B Looney (36), P Clarke for T Brosnan (42), E Brosnan for M Burns (61), A O'Donovan for K O'Leary (61, bc).
Commercials - M O'Reilly; J Peters, L Ryan, D Lynch; K Fahey, D Madigan, K Harney; S Kennedy, J Kennedy; P Looram, J Lonergan, I Fahey; R Peters, M Quinlivan, E Fitzgerald. Subs: L Moore for J Peters (32, bc), R Gunne for E Fitzgerald (40), R Lambe for I Fahey (54), A Lonergan for R Peters (54).
Ref - K Murphy (Cork)