Gooch on fire for Crokes

Dr Crokes 2-12, St. Brendan’s 0-5
NO upset in London as Dr Crokes cruised into the All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final with consummate ease.

The scoring exploits of Colm Cooper, who amassed all but six points of his side’s tally, ensured the Munster champions cruised past London champions St. Brendans, who failed to score from play over the hour.

Crokes did all they had to do to garner the victory, but team coach Pat O’Shea was not happy, particular in the opening half as his side struggled to cope with their opponents.

"Having to make the journey, it was never going to be easy. We were far too sluggish in that opening half, but all credit to the lads they picked up considerably on the change over and we finished well," said O’Shea.

"You have to give credit to St. Brendans. They are working under very difficult conditions in such a big city and they certainly gave us enough of it in that opening half. The most important thing from our point of view was to get to the semi-final and even a one point victory would have sufficed."

If nothing else Brendans were a game outfit. The certainly put it up to the visitors in the opening half and a three-point half-time deficit wasn’t insurmountable given the strength of the wind which they had for the second moiety.

However they lacked scoring power up front and never threatened a goal against a very solid Crokes defence in which Keith McMahon, Luke Quinn, Michael Moloney and UCC student Enna Kavanagh gave nothing away.

For Brendans, Fergal McArdle did a very good marking job on Colm Cooper, keeping him to just two points from play, Paul Malone did nothing wrong at full back while Shane McAlinden won his share of midfield possession.

Crokes won the toss and played with the wind in the first half but it was the home side which opened the scoring when Kieran Pahir pointed a free in the first minute, and at the end of the first quarter the sides were level at 0-2 apiece.

Crokes use of the long high ball into their forwards didn’t work, and it was only when they began to play the short passing game that the scores came.

The strength of the wind and the excellence of the Crokes half back line of Batt Moriarty, Michael Moloney and Enna Kavanagh meant there was little threat from the Brendans forwards. At the other end Colm Cooper showed his class with the lead point from the fist, and as pressure began to mount, the home side were grateful for two magnificent waves by goalkeeper Billy Molloy from Kieran O’Leary and Brian Looney.

Molloy’s excellence between the posts ensured the home side stayed in touch, and a Killian Pahir point from a free – Brendans’ first score for 15 minutes — left Crokes 0-6 to 0-3 in front at the break, leaving the home side harbouring hopes of causing a major upset.

Crokes had Eoin Brosnan operating around midfield for the second half, which worked well for them: in six minutes they effectively killed off the Brendans challenge.

Colm Cooper began the scoring burst with a point before converting a penalty after Ambrose O’Donovan was grounded. It was plain sailing from there on as Crokes knocked over a succession of points, then Cooper converted his second penalty after he was taken down following a great through ball from the impressive Kieran O’Leary.

The home side never gave up the chase, which pleased their manager Peter McNally: "The final result is a bit hard on us. Dr Crokes were far from 13 points a better than us.

"At half time I felt we were in the game with a great chance, but we gave the ball away far too easy on the change over and of course we didn’t have anything like Colm Cooper in our forward line who could score.

"It was their ability to score which was the big difference between the teams. We put this team together only last year and I’m extremely proud of the effort they put in. No one gave us any chance of winning the London championship and we take a lot of heart from the effort we made out there today."

Scorers for Dr Crokes: C. Cooper 2-6 (2-0 pens., 0-4 f); K. O’Leary, E. Brosnan, J. Fleming, K. Brosnan, B. Moloney, B. Moriarty 0-1 each.

St. Brendans: K. Pahir 0-4 (frees); A. Brett 0-1 free).

DR. CROKES: K. Cremin; K. McMahon, L. Quinn, S. Doolan; B. Moriarty, M. Moloney, E. Kavanagh; A. O’Donovan, B. McMahon; B. Looney, K. Brosnan, J. Fleming; C. Cooper, E. Brosnan, K. O’Leary.

Subs: V. Cooper for K. Brosnan; D. Moloney for Looney; J. Cahillane for Doolan; J. Payne for Moriarty; B. O’Donoghue for M. Moloney.

ST. BRENDANS: B. Molloy; F. McArdle, P. Malone, G. Cullen; P. Tierney, F. Greenan, S. O’Hara; S. McAlinden, P. Mitchell; L. O’Connell, B. Bolger, J. Corscadden; K. Pahir, S. Cullen, A. Brett.

Subs: L. Fallon for Mitchell; P. Bowles for Cullen; D. O’Connor for Tierney; M. Gillespie for Pahir.

Referee: T. Quigley (Dublin).