Wednesday 21 March 2018

Dr Crokes win All-Ireland after seeing off 14 man Slaughtneil

FT Dr. Crokes 1-09 Slaughtneil 1-07

Colm Cooper of Dr. Crokes celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the AIB GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Final match between Dr. Crokes and Slaughtneil at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile
Colm Cooper of Dr. Crokes celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the AIB GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Final match between Dr. Crokes and Slaughtneil at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Daire Brennan/Sportsfile

Sean McGoldrick

Kerry's Colm Cooper secured the one medal which had eluded him during his illustrious career as his club Dr Crokes won the All-Ireland title for only the second time in their history at Croke Park.

Cooper was the team's ball boy when the Killarney club last secured the Andy Merrigan Cup in 1992. He scored 1-2 in the decider and could afford to squander a free deep in injury time as the Slaughtneil challenge faded in the second half which they had to play with 14 men.

Beaten finalists ten years ago against Crossmaglen Rangers, the Kerry side had looked the form team throughout the series.

It was a bitterly disappointing afternoon for Slaughtneil who were suffering their second All-Ireland final defeat in three years.

Both their football and hurling sides won the Ulster title but the dismissal of midfielder Padraig Cassidy with a straight red card in injury time at the end of the first half effectively scuppered their chances.

They only managed two points in the second half, and none from play, as Dr Crokes secured the Andy Merrigan Cup. It was also a special occasions for Crokes manager Pat O'Shea as he guided Kerry to an All-Ireland win in 2007.

A fascinating first half ended in controversy – indeed, rarely in an All-Ireland final has lost time at the end of a period proved so decisive. As the clocked ticked into the 31st minute Slaughtneil – despite playing against the breeze – deservingly led by a point (1-5; 1-4).

But then it hopelessly all wrong for the Derry title holders. Daithi Casey whose runs through the heart of the Slaughneil defence had proved a significant headache beat Paul McNeill for pace before off-loading to Brian Looney who tapped over the equaliser.

For the fourth time in the half, Slaughtneil surrendered their kick out with Looney reacting fastest to the breaking ball to hit his third point from play. But worse was to follow for Slaughtneil even though they won the kick-out.

The ball broke down to right flank and following an untidy scramble for possession Slaughtneil hit out and struck Kieran O'Leary with a body punch in clear view of the linesman. The referee banished him with a red card and blew the half time whistle soon afterwards.

So Crokes led by a point (1-6; 1-5) despite having been outplayed for long periods. The pattern of the contest was set in the early stages when Slaughtneil created three chances but only availed of one with a third minute point from Shane McGuigan.

Even though Dr Crokes were pressurising their kick outs, the Ulster kingpins still led 0-3 to 0-2 after 11 minutes, though they had a fortunate early escape when Dr Crokes centre back Gavin White was allowed run through the centre unimpeded, but he fluffed his leg footed shot and it flew wide.

The game took its first decisive turn two minutes later when Slaughtneil's Brendan Rogders – who was clearly winning his individual dual with Colm Cooper – started a move which culminated in Cormac Doherty linking up with Padraig Cassidy who brilliantly weaved his way through the Crokes defence before hitting a superb goal.

Slaughtneil stretched their lead to four points in the 17th minute when Paul Bradley pointed a free after Chrissy McKaigue was upended by Michael Moloney on the edge of the square.

Finally Dr Crokes got motoring with Colm Cooper illustrating how dangerous he is with a sublime goal. It was his colleague Daithi Casey who created the chance cutting through the Slaughtneil defence which forced Cooper's marker Brendan Rodgers to meet him. Casey slipped the ball to the unmarked Cooper who nonchalantly rolled it past Antoin McMullan.

It was nip and tuck from there to the finish with both sides pressurising each other high up the field but everything changed in injury time at the end of the half.

The second quarter was a largely forgotten affair with the sides exchanging one free each and Dr Crokes introducing two of their high profile substitutes, Jordan Kiely and Michael Burns.

Both made significant impacts; Burns kicked the first point of the half in the 45th minute while Kiely won a free which Cooper – who grew more influential as the half progressed – pointed. Suddenly it was a three point game as Slaughtneil emptied their bench.

They pulled back a point through a Paul Bradley free but then lost midfielder Patsy Bradley with a blood injury through he did re-appear a couple of minutes later. With an extra man Dr Crokes were happy to keep ball as they went through the phases across the back the field while all the time the clock ticked on relentlessly.

There was little Slaughtneil could do about the situation – without the ball they were fighting shadows.

The attendance was 30,930.

Dr Crokes: S Murphy; J Payne, M Moloney, L Quinn; D O'Leary, G White, F Fitzgerald; A O'Donovan, A O'Sullivan; J Buckley, G O'Shea, B Looney (0-3); C Cooper (1-2, 2f), D Casey (0-3, 2f), K O'Leary.Subs: J Kiely for O'Sullivan 39m; M Burns (0-1) for O'Shea 39m; S Doolan for D O'Leary 48m; T Brosnan for Looney 58m; E Brosnan for Casey 63m; C Brady for O'Leary 63m.

Slaughtneil: A McMullan; F McEldowney (0-1), B Rodgers, K McKaigue; P O'Neill, D McKaigue, K Feeney; P Bradley, P Cassidy (1-0); S McGuigan (0-1), P Bradley (0-3, 3f), M McGrath; C Bradley (0-2), S McGuigan, C O'Doherty. Subs: B Cassidy for O'Doherty 48m; R Bradley for McGrath, B McGuigan for Feeney both 52m; G Bradley for S McGuigan 54m

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