Wednesday 18 September 2019

Clare champions Miltown brave to the end but Shaw strike for Crokes is just what the doctor ordered

Dr Crokes 1-21 St Joseph's Miltown-Malbay 2-9

Dr Crokes midfielder Johnny Buckley goes flying through the air as he’s tackled by Eoin Curtin of Miltown-Malbay. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Dr Crokes midfielder Johnny Buckley goes flying through the air as he’s tackled by Eoin Curtin of Miltown-Malbay. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Independent.ie Sportsdesk

It was very much business as usual in the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick for the post-match presentation yesterday.

Dr Crokes accepted the Munster club SFC trophy for the fifth time since 2011 and, with the minimum of fuss, disappeared into the wind. If body language was anything to go by, they had bigger things on their mind.

Tony Brosnan of Dr Crokes in action against Brian Curtin of St Josephs Miltown Malbay. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Tony Brosnan of Dr Crokes in action against Brian Curtin of St Josephs Miltown Malbay. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

Dr Crokes selector Niall 'Botty' O'Callaghan confirmed as much. Having left Páirc Uí Rinn with their "tails between their legs" 12 months ago, they had achieved their aim at the start of the year by climbing back to the summit of club football in the province.

"I made no bones about it, this time last year we were a tired team, we had no excuses whatsoever." O"Callaghan said.

"We were complacent and didn't handle our business right, but we did handle our business right this year. Fellas are really focused and today it's a lot different than this time last year, coming out of Cork with our tails between our legs, deservedly."

Miltown were gallant to the end, with Darragh McDonagh's late goal underlining their stomach for the fight.

Michael Potts of Dr Crokes is tackled by Graham Kelly of St Josephs Miltown Malbay. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Michael Potts of Dr Crokes is tackled by Graham Kelly of St Josephs Miltown Malbay. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

However, they were chasing the game from early on, with David Shaw's fourth-minute goal helping the Killarney men into a 1-6 to nil lead after 12 minutes.

From there it felt like an exercise in terms of how much the Kerry side would win by, rather than if they'd win.

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Deep down Miltown must have known it was done, but they showed no sign of that and kept coming.

Buoyed by a well-worked Oisín Looney goal, they trailed by six (1-10 to 1-4) at the interval and might have been even closer but for a couple of missed frees.

Jordan Kiely of Dr Crokes in action against Enda OGorman of St Josephs Miltown Malbay. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Jordan Kiely of Dr Crokes in action against Enda OGorman of St Josephs Miltown Malbay. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

However, if they showed they could do some damage by hurting Crokes with some direct running, they were struggling at the other end.

Tony Brosnan finished the day with eight points, while Crokes finished the day with 10 different scorers and didn't register a wide until the 25th minute.

The second-half ran along similar lines as the Clare men were admirably dogged, but were also outclassed.

By the time Crokes introduced Colm Cooper on 43 minutes, they were eight points up.

Micheál Burns of Dr Crokes is tackled by Brian Curtin of St Josephs Miltown Malbay. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Micheál Burns of Dr Crokes is tackled by Brian Curtin of St Josephs Miltown Malbay. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile

To demonstrate their strength in depth, 'Gooch' was one of just seven All-Ireland winners at various levels that the Kerry men left on the bench from the start; five of them saw action.

By that stage Crokes already had one foot on the bus home. Miltown's last act of defiance came when McDonagh's persistence earned him a goal.

That score meant Crokes had nine to spare at the final whistle, which wasn't to be sniffed at considering the Kerry men won their last two games in the province by 16 and 21 points.

However, St Joseph's manager Mike Neylon admitted his side had been outclassed on the day.

"I mean we're obviously disappointed." he said.

"We came here with ambitions, we came here to see if we could snatch it and we found out that we came up against a better team.

"We have to use today as a huge learning experience for us. It's our first time at this level, it's our first provincial final.

"We're delighted to be here and if we can learn from today… it's a great experience for all these players to go out and play a team like the Crokes. High standard, huge standard there today and in a lot of aspects of the game we matched them, but obviously there was some slickness there on the part of the Crokes that we found it hard to get to grips with."

He also admitted that the video analysis in the build-up to the game gave them little insight as to how to try and hurt Dr Crokes.

"From trying to get our heads around them over the last two weeks, it was an eye-opener for us to see how good they were.

"In trying to prepare for the last two weeks in every aspect of it, we realised this is a seriously good team. What we didn't know is how good we are and we found out today that we're just not at this level as of yet.

"Crokes have very few weaknesses out there and of course they have the ambition. This is just another day for Crokes, this would have been a huge win for us, it's another step for the Crokes and onwards they go."

Crokes face into a hectic domestic schedule now that will see them in county league final action next weekend as well as East Kerry championship fare. O'Callaghan hinted they will test the depth of their squad before their date with the Leinster winners in February.

"What we usually do and we haven't talked about it yet, because today was the focus, but a lot of the fellas who have been sitting down and not getting games will all play because they need to play and deserve to play and we need to see what they have in the tank," he explained.

"There are some fellas there like David Naughton, he started our first championship game back in August, but he hasn't had a kick since and that's very hard.

"He's on the Kerry U-20s, (was) a Kerry minor and has All-Irelands coming out his back pocket and this is the first chance we have to give him a game.

"All those fellas need game time and that will be the big thing."

SCORERS - Dr Crokes: T Brosnan 0-8 (5f), D Casey 0-3 (2f), D Shaw 1-0, K O'Leary, B Looney, M Burns 0-2 each, J Buckley, S Murphy (1 45), G O'Shea, J Kiely 0-1 each

Miltown-Malbay: D McDonagh 1-2, E Cleary 0-3 (2f), O Looney 1-0, K Malone 0-2, E O'Gorman, K Keavey 0-1 each

Dr Crokes - S Murphy; J Payne, M Moloney, F Fitzgerald; D O'Leary, G White, S Doolan; J Buckley, D Casey; M Burns, G O'Shea, B Looney; D Shaw, K O'Leary, T Brosnan Subs: M Potts for Doolan (40), C Cooper for Looney (44), A O'Sullivan for Moloney (48), J Kiely for Shaw (50), D Naughten for O'Leary (55), B Fitzgerald for Burns (59)

Miltown-Malbay - S O'Brien; A McGuane, E O'Gorman, E O'Brien; C Hehir, G Kelly, J O'Connor; O Looney, C Cleary; K Malone, E Cleary, K Keavey; B Curtin, D McDonagh, C Murray Subs: M Murray for Hehir (28), E Curtin for Keavey (HT), G Kelly for O'Connor (44), S Malone for B Curtin (50), E Reidy for McGuane (55), G Malone for Murray (59)

Ref - A Kissane (Waterford)

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