Heartbreak for Mullinalaghta as Crokes set up heavyweight All-Ireland final clash with Corofin
Dr Crokes 0-18 Mullinalaghta 2-7
Mullinalagha’s fairytale run in the club championship, which captured the nation's imagination when they conquered Leinster against monumental odds in December, has ended.
Having demolished teams on their way to winning the Munster title, and winners of the All-Ireland in 2017, Dr Crokes were expected to storm out of the traps like they have done since winning the Kerry championship. But they conceded two first half goals and lost Johnny Buckley to a red card after 20 minutes when trailing by three points.
Despite those set-backs they showed excellent composure and battling qualities to ride the storm. Indeed the sending off inspired Crokes and brought increased urgency to their play. Gavin White showed exemplary leadership, their outstanding player on the day, with two scything runs which started the comeback and set the standard for others the follow.
One of those penetrating runs led to a pointed free for the dynamic Tony Brosnan, who ended the first half with 0-5, three from play. Brosnan was one of the outstanding players on show and the county minor from 2013 looks sure to get a call up from Peter Keane when Crokes’ campaign is done. He finished the match with four points from play and set up another point for Kieran O’Leary, who also helped himself to four white flags.
When Buckley was sent off Crokes were after conceding their second goal, finished by Jayson Matthews a minute earlier, after an initial effort by James McGivney was parried by Shane Murphy in the Crokes goal. This followed a third-minute penalty from Gary Rogers, whose penalty goal had helped fell Kilmacud Crokes in the Leinster final in December.
But trailing 0-5 to 2-2, a man down, Crokes rolled up the sleeves and got down to work. For the remainder of the half Mullinalaghta were mostly on the back foot, scoring only once more when half back Donie McElligott pointed after a solo run in injury time. By then Crokes had reeled off five points in a row to open a two-point lead, with the impressive David Shaw restoring that advantage, 0-11 to 2-3, just before the half time whistle.
Shaw, who scored three points, moved out to the middle of the field after the Buckley dismissal and had a telling influence with Gavin O’Shea at the centre of many of their attacks. Daithi Casey, O’Leary and Brian Looney hit beautiful scores as their class told. But the Longford side were still in the match, still hopeful of another upset entering the second half.
The outlook looked a good deal more bleak for the underdogs when Crokes resumed like men possessed. They hit four sublime sores in a row and that looked it, leading 0-16 to 2-3, their movement causing endless problems for Mullinalaghta. But there was still a kick in the Longford side and the Crokes’ defending never looked totally assured. Two frees from David McGivney reduced the lead to four points and they nearly goaled a third time when Aidan McElligott was denied by Shane Murphy.
The excellent White nearly goaled at the other end, his effort well saved by Patrick Rogers, and then O’Leary’s fourth point and a first for Micheal Burns saw Crokes through. Colm Cooper and fellow veteran Eoin Brosnan joined the action in the final ten minutes but had little impact.
Scorers: Dr Crokes - T Brosnan 0-6 (0-2 fs); K O’Leary 0-4; D Shaw 0-3; D Casey 0-2 (0-1 f), B Looney, G O’Shea, M Burns 0-1. Mulllinalaghta - D McGivney 0-5 (0-4 fs); G Rogers (pen), J Matthews 1-0; D McElligott, B Fox 0-1.
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 (35 mins); A O’Sullivan for D O’Leary (50); C Coopr for O’Shea (51); E Brosnan for Burns (58); J Kiely for T Brosnan (60).
Mulinalaghta: P Rogers; S Cadam, P Fox, C Brady; F Mulligan, S Mulligan, D McElligott; D McGivney, J Keegan; G Rogers, J McGivney, B Fox; J Matthews, R Brady, A McElligott.
Subs: M Cuningham for F Mulligan (26 mins); C McElligott for Fox (58).
Referee: S Hurson (Tyrone).