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Brosnan blasts Crokes to final

IT WAS easy in the finish but for three-quarters of this AIB All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final replay at Nenagh on Saturday, the game hung in the balance.

A wonderful goal by Eoin Brosnan in the 59th minute finally settled the issue and ensures Kerry teams will contest all three football club finals next month.

There is no greater sight in Gaelic football than seeing Brosnan in full flight, ball to toe, and bearing down on goal. With this game delicately poised at 1-8 to 0-8 in Crokes’ favour and a minute of normal time remaining, the big midfielder was given a superb pass by Ambrose O’Donovan on the 45-metre line.

Brosnan evaded two defenders but staggered in the process. Somehow he managed to stay on his feet, soloed 30 metres before unleashing an unstoppable shot to the corner of the Moorefield net for a goal worthy of winning any game.

While there were still four minutes to play — three were added on for injuries — that goal finally broke the Moorefield challenge and Kieran O’Leary’s point put the icing on he cake.

The last occasion Crokes were in the All-Ireland final was in 1992 when they defeated Thomas Davis of Dublin by the narrowest of margins, and current coach Pat O’Shea played right-corner forward. Understandably he was a happy man to be returning to Croke Park.

"This is an incredible day for the club, for the players, team management and our supporters," said O’Shea.

"Most of us are accustomed to going to Croke Park to watch the county play, but this is going to be entirely different. In the normal scheme of things, apart from our two inter-county men, the vast majority of our players would never get the chance to play there and that is why this victory today is so important to us all.

"This was always going to be a pressure match. Semi-finals are like that. You saw last Sunday how close it was, and today it was a case of which team learned most from the drawn game.

"Perhaps our first-half display was the key to the victory. We went in a point in front after playing against the strong wind and it certainly gave us the platform to go on and win it. The wind was definitely a factor but it took a while to break them down.

"I said last week that Moorefield were a very good side. Teams don’t get to All-Ireland semi-finals without having a lot going for them and they certainly put it us to us in a big way in the third quarter when they fought back from three points down to draw level.

"Club championship games are what it’s all about. It’s pure football, pure adrenalin and pure club commitment, and everyone carries you along. It’s not just about the superstars, it’s about the ordinary players."

As in the drawn game, there was little to choose between the teams again on this occasion. However goals win matches and Crokes conjured up two at crucial stages.

Operating with only a two-man full-forward line, they were a point adrift playing into the wind in the opening half before Kieran O’Leary and Colm Cooper combined to set up David Moloney for the first.

That goal helped the Munster champions into a one point lead which they held to the break but they were grateful for some excellent defending by Michael Moloney and Keith McMahon.

Moorefield brought Daryl Flynn to midfield for the second half but it took 14 minutes to register a score, and at the end of the third quarter, Crokes were still a point to the good.

As the excitement mounted so too did the tension and it was all to play for after Ross Glavin landed the equaliser. Crokes introduced Andrew Kenneally and he impressed in the last quarter, but it was the strength of Ambrose O’Donovan around midfield and the delightful skills of Kieran O’Leary in attack which eventually turned the game Crokes way.

Operating deep in his own half Colm Cooper combined with O’Donovan to put Eoin Brosnan through and the big man made no mistake from 13 metres out. "There was only one thing on my mind when I broke free," said Brosnan. "A clean path opened up and I went for it. It was a great feeling to see the ball hit the net and there was no way back for Moorefield. Going to Croke Park with the club will be a new experience. It’s a dream come through for most of the lads and hopefully everything goes well."

Scorers: Dr Crokes: D. Moloney 1-2 (0-1 45); C. Cooper {0-2 frees}, K. O’Leary 0-3 each; E. Brosnan 1-0; A. O’Donovan 0-1. Moorefield: P. Murray 0-2 D. Flynn, P. Wolfe, M. Tracey. R. Sweeney (free), J. Philips, R. Glavin 0-1 each.

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

Subs: A. Kenneally for Looney; V. Cooper for Fleming; J. Cahillane for Doolan; K. Brosnan for D. Moloney.

MOOREFIELD: T. Corely; P. O’Flynn, I. Lonergan, K. O’Neill; K. Duane, G. Naughton, L. O’Callaghan; R. Glavin, R. Sweeney; P. Murray, D. Flynn, M. Tracey; F. Hannify, J. Philips, P. Wolfe.

Subs: D. White for Hannify; P. Behan for Wolfe; R. Delaney for Tracey.

Referee: M. Deegan (Laois).