Kilmacud Crokes edge past Portlaoise
Dr Crokes 1-21 St Joseph’s M’town 2-9
Munster masters Dr Crokes comfortably kept apprentices St Joseph’s Miltown at arm’s length to complete a fifth Munster title this decade at the Gaelic Grounds yesterday.
In what was their seventh final appearance in nine years, the vast experience of the Killarney side was decisive in halting the challenge of Clare’s provincial final debutants, highlighted by their 10 different scorers over the hour. Miltown Malbay craved a good start to put it up to the Kerry kingpins but were left chasing the game in vain after the Crokes blazed into a nine-point lead inside the opening 12 minutes.
Despite the inevitability of the result long before the final whistle, Dr Crokes selector Vince Casey was appreciative of the club’s first provincial crown since 2016: “It means a huge amount, I mean to win five out of seven finals since 2010 is a phenomenal achievement. This bunch of players have shown an incredible commitment and desire to come back any time they have faced adversity in that period. After last year’s final defeat to Nemo [Rangers], it would have been easy for some guys to hang up their boots but not this group so it’s great to come back and win the title today.”
Their determination was clear from the outset as David Shaw’s third-minute goal initiated a 1-6 rally that saw Gavin O’Shea, Daithí Casey, goalkeeper Shane Murphy, Tony Brosnan and Kieran O’Leary all get in on the scoring action.
St Joseph’s Miltown finally settled with an Oisín Looney goal in the second quarter to lower the gap to five but despite that welcome boost, the Crokes always seemed able to respond. Kevin Keavey opened the west Clare side’s account in the 13th minute but even with Looney’s goal six minutes later, Dr Crokes stayed in control. Points from Casey, Brian Looney and Brosnan equalled scores from Clare seniors Eoin Cleary and Kieran Malone to take a 1-10 to 1-4 lead at half-time.
The Kerry champions kicked four of the first five points of the new half through Brosnan, Micheál Burns, Casey and a goal opportunity for Looney that just cleared the crossbar on their way to restoring a nine-point cushion by the 38th minute at 1-15 to 1-5. Miltown Malbay never lowered their heads but three times over the next 10 minutes, points from his twin brother Eoin, Enda O’Gorman and Darragh McDonagh were matched by Brosnan, O’Leary and Johnny Buckley before Dr Crokes turned the screw in the final quarter. Four of the next five points – two from Brosnan – would carve out Crokes’ biggest lead (1-21 to 1-9).
So while the Clare champions did raid for a consolation goal through Darragh McDonagh, by that stage the Kerry champions were already thinking ahead to an All-Ireland semi-final showdown with either St Columba’s Mullinalaghta (Longford) or Kilmacud Crokes (Dublin).
David Shaw’s third-minute goal initiated a 1-6 rally for Dr Crokes at the Gaelic Grounds