Dr Crokes triumph in Munster
AIB Munster Club SFC Final
DR CROKES (KERRY) 1-21 ST JOSEPH'S MILTOWN MALBAY (CLARE) 2-9
By Paul Brennan at Gaelic Grounds, Limerick
Dr Crokes are champions of Munster for the fifth time in eight years after a comprehensive win over Clare's St Joseph's Miltown Malbay. The Killarney club justified hot favouritism to bank their fifth provincial title since 2011 - and eighth in all - although they were made to work hard for their win by a Miltown Malbay that soldiered gamely to the end.
This was Dr Crokes toughest game of their provincial campaign, but a nine-point win illustrates their dominant position in Munster club football and franks their ambition to regain the All-Ireland title they won and then lost in 2017.
With a busy domestic season still to conclude in Kerry, Dr Crokes will be pleased to have come through this final without any fuss, but the concession of two goals and a two-month gap until an All-Ireland semi-final will focus the minds around Lewis Road over the Christmas.
In perfect conditions in the Gaelic Grounds, Miltown Malbay did exactly what they needed not to do, which was to concede an early goal to Dr Crokes, but it took less than three minutes for David Shaw to find the net after Gavin O'Shea's point had got Crokes off the mark in the second minute.
Points followed from Daithi Casey, Kieran O'Leary, a pair from Tony Brosnan and a converted '45' from goalkeeper Shane Murphy to put the Kerry club 1-6 to no score ahead by the 11th minute, and this final had all the ingredients of a forgettable landslide.
But just as soon as this final looked to be heading towards an embarrassment as such, Miltown Malbay got their game together, kick-started by Kevin Keavey's 13th minute point.
Midfielder Darragh McDonagh added a second and then in the 20th minute Eoin Cleary played in Oisin Looney who finished confidently past Murphy to cut the gap to five points, 1-7 to 1-2.
Casey and Brian Looney extended the Crokes lead back out to seven points, but Eoin Cleary and then Kieran Malone mined late scores for the west Clare club to help make it a six-point game at the interval, 1-10 to 1-4.
Early points from Brosnan and Looney stretched Dr Crokes' lead after the restart and they never looked in danger after that as they ran their full bench, including Colm Cooper, who still has to make do with a place on the bench.
Points from McDonagh, Enda O'Gorman and a couple of Eoin Cleary frees kept the scoreboard respectable from Miltown Malbay's perspective, and it was further embellished when McDonagh scored an added-time goal to give the large Clare support more to cheer about.
Few in Killarney would argue that this win is just the means to a greater end, one they'll hope ends in the Hogan Stand on St Patrick's Day.
Scorers for Dr Crokes: Tony Brosnan 0-8 (5fs), David Shaw 1-0, Daithi Casey 0-3 (2fs), Kieran O'Leary 0-2, Brian Looney 0-2, Micheal Burns 0-2, Gavin O'Shea 0-1, Johnny Buckley 0-1, Jordan Kiely 0-1, Shane Murphy 0-1 ('45').
Scorers for Milltown Malbay: Darragh McDonagh 1-2, Oisin Looney 1-0, Eoin Cleary 0-3 (2fs), Kieran Malone 0-2, Kevin Keavey 0-1, Enda O'Gorman 0-1.
DR CROKES: Shane Murphy, John Payne, Michael Moloney, Fionn Fitzgerald, David O'Leary, Gavin White, Shane Doolan, Johnny Buckley, Daithi Casey, Micheal Burns, Gavin O'Shea, Brian Looney, David Shaw, Kieran O'Leary, Tony Brosnan.
Subs: Michael Potts for S Doolan (40), Colm Cooper for Looney (44), Alan O'Sullivan for M Moloney (48), Jordan Kiely for Shaw (50), David Naughton for D O'Leary (55), Brian Fitzgerald for M Burns (59)
MILLTOWN MALBAY: Sean O'Brien, Aidan McGuane, Enda O'Gorman, Eoin O'Brien, Colin Hehir, Gordon Kelly, Jamesie O'Connor, Oisin Looney, Darragh McDonagh, Kevin Keavey, Conor Cleary, Kieran Malone, Brian Curtin, Eoin Cleary, Cormac Murray.
Subs: Michael Murray for C Hehir (29, inj), Eoin Curtin for K Keavey (ht), Graham Kelly for J O'Connor (44), Sean Malone for B Curtin (50), Euan Reidy for A McGuane (55), Gerard Malone for C Murray (60)
REFEREE: A Kissane (Waterford).