Dr. Crokes (Kerry) 0-19 Castlehaven (Cork) 0-12
Dr. Crokes produced a dominant performance at Páirc Uí Chaoimh to retain the AIB Munster Club Senior Football Championship title.
Cork challengers Castlehaven fell four points behind in the early stages of today’s final and despite the best efforts of Damien Cahillane and Mark Collins, they were unable to reel Crokes in.
The Kerry champions are the first club to retain the Munster crown since Nemo Rangers did so between 2000 and 2002.
Johnny Buckley and Ambrose O’Donovan provided a platform of possession for them from midfield, outshining their rivals Sean Dineen and Dermot Hurley.
Buckley had an immediate impact, winning the throw-in and embarking on a 30-yard run which led to Daithi Casey pointing Crokes in front.
Buckley fisted over and Colm Cooper, ever the threat in a fast-moving Crokes attack, had points from play and a placed ball as the pre-match favourites tore ahead.
Chris Brady missed the game’s first goal-scoring chance before Cahillane fired over an excellent long range point to get Castlehaven off the mark in the 10th minute.
Kieran O’Leary and Brian Looney extended Crokes’ advantage, sandwiching a Brian Hurley free,
Continuing to profit from quick ball and accurate passing, the Kingdom outfit pressed on with Brady and Looney making it 0-8 to 0-2. They suffered their first setback though when the experienced Eoin Brosnan went off injured.
Castlehaven improved coming up to half-time, with Collins wielding more of an influence up front.
Mark Moloney was a rock at the back for Crokes though, and Collins (free) and Damien Cahillane could only add two more points before the break.
Crokes were 0-11 to 0-4 to the good by that stage, with the impressive O’Leary, Jamie Doolin and Looney (‘45’) hitting their final points of the half.
There was no respite for ‘Haven on the resumption as Cooper and Looney added to Crokes’ tally, although Dineen and Collins were quick to reply for the Leesiders.
Crokes missed out on a goal when O’Donovan, played in by Cooper, sent a shot off the butt of the post.
On the day, they did not need goals though and Dineen’s sending-off for a clumsy challenge that floored Cooper in the 40th minute left Castlehaven almost out for the count.
To their credit, ‘Haven responded with a quality score from Collins for a 0-13 to 0-7 scoreline. But the extra man and the gap on the scoreboard left Crokes with all the aces.
Displaying their power and pace on the ball again, Crokes enjoyed a purple patch during which Cooper and Looney starred.
O’Leary fisted another point and Looney followed up with two crisply struck scores, with centre-fielder Buckley also on target. Another quality effort from Looney had the margin out to 0-18 to 0-7.
Castlehaven gained some consolation with a decent spell in the final minutes that included points from Collins, Sean Cahillane and David Burns.
But today the 1997 Munster champions were on the end of a serious lesson from Crokes, who will move on into the All-Ireland Championship with a real spring in their step.