Given next Sunday’s Munster Club semi-final against St Finbarr’s will be their third game in 14 days, Dr Crokes were quietly thankful for the straightforward nature of this trip to Tipp.
All told, the Kerry champions didn’t encounter a single road bump when moving seamlessy towards a third consecutive provincial final appearance and seventh this decade. Four ahead after 11 minutes, the visitors to South Tipperary were nine clear at the interval (2-8 to 0-5). It was even smoother sailing on the resumption for Pat O’Shea’s charges.
Having twice shot themselves in the foot when gifting Dr Crokes two first-half goals, the frustration of the newly crowned Tipperary champions peaked on 39 minutes when Shane Foley received a straight red card for lashing out at an opponent when wrapped up by three black and amber jerseys.
As Foley shuffled to the sideline, he met Colm Cooper on his way into the action. Following him into the fray were Jordan Kiely, Michael Potts (the provider of their third goal), Mark O’Shea and Jason Lyne.
There was to be no let-up for the 14-men of Moyle Rovers. Outscored by 1-7 to 0-3 in the second period, the Powerstown/Lisronagh club were fortunate not to be taken for another two or three goals.
On their last foray into Munster back in 2009, Moyle Rovers came within two points of Kerins O’Rahilly’s at Austin Stack Park. This was a far more chastening experience for a side who were without 2016 All-Star nominee Peter Acheson, the midfield general returning to Dubai after last weekend’s county final triumph.
Although it was the household names in the Crokes attack - Burns, Brosnan and O’Leary - who did the damage, selector Edmund O’Sullivan chose to focus on a defensive effort which limited their opponents to two points between the 14th and 46th minute. The eight points conceded was just one more than the seven Dingle kicked from open play in last weekend’s Kerry decider.
“Looking back on it now, the defeat to Kerins O’Rahilly’s in the second round of the county championship was a bit of a blessing in disguise,” said O’Sullivan.
“We probably weren’t as physical as we should have been at that stage. We’ve toughened up a good bit since. Defensively, we have become a lot better.”
The selector was keenly aware, though, that a far stiffer challenge lies in wait, particularly when you consider the Cork champions have played only one game over the past four weekends.
“Ideally, you’d prefer an extra week [between games], especially as you are coming after a county final where there are tired bodies .
“We’ll look at the Barrs’ threats, but we usually play to our own strengths. ”
Kieran O’Leary supplied their two first-half goals; the first stemmed from Tony Brosnan turning over Patrick Morrissey close to the Moyle Rovers goal, the second a result of Jack Harney failing to hold onto a Johnny Buckley point attempt which dropped short.
With Richard Power landing a sweet effort off his left to leave the scoreboard reading 1-3 to 0-3 after 14 minutes, the hosts wasted three successive point-scoring opportunities. They could not afford such wastefulness.
At the other end, Daithi Casey and Micheál Burns were sniping points on the break, while Brosnan was unerring in punishing every Moyle Rovers indiscretion. Burns was sent to the line for a second yellow card six minutes from the end.
“When you are playing the better teams, you get punished when you make a mistake. We made two defensive errors and were punished with two goals. I couldn’t criticise the character or the effort the lads gave, but there was, maybe, a bit of naivety,” said Moyle Rovers manager Niall Fitzgerald.
“Tipperary is an extremely difficult championship to win, but you have to give it to Crokes; in terms of a forward unit, we haven’t been exposed to that, even in challenge games.”
On the black and red cards shown to Boland and Foley, Fitzgerald was reticent to criticise James Bermingham.
“Did I agree with every decision he made? No, I didn’t. It didn’t affect the outcome of the game so there is not much point in giving out about the red card.”
Scorers for Dr Crokes: K O’Leary (2-2); T Brosnan (0-7, 6 frees); M Potts (1-0); M Burns (0-3); D Casey, D Shaw, C Cooper (0-1 each).
Scorers for Moyle Rovers: S Quirke, D Ryan (0-2 each); S Casey, Liam Boland, R Quigley, R Mulcahy (0-1 each).
DR CROKES: S Murphy; F Fitzgerald, M Moloney, J Payne; D O’Leary, G White, S Doolan; J Buckley, D Casey; M Burns, G O’Shea, B Looney; T Brosnan, K O’Leary, D Shaw.
Subs: A O’Sullivan for Moloney (21 mins, inj); C Cooper for Shaw (39); J Kiely for Casey, M Potts for Doolan (both 43); J Lyne for D O’Leary (47); M O’Shea for K O’Leary (52).
MOYLE ROVERS: C Kenrick; A Campbell, T Fitzgerald, P Morrissey; Luke Boland, R Mulcahy, D McGrath; R Power, S Quirke; D Ryan, A McGrath, M Irwin; Liam Boland, D Owens, S Foley.
Subs: J Harney for Morrissey (18); D Foley for Liam Boland (20, bc); R Quigley for Quirke (44); S Casey for A McGrath (45); B Owens for Luke Boland (48).
Referee: J Bermingham (Cork).