Another All-Ireland title for Corofin and another one by double digits.
Consider last year’s win over Nemo Rangers and the 2016 triumph against Slaughtneil, and their aggregate winning margin is a crushing 37 points. Nobody can be in any doubt who are the kingpins of club football.
Billed as a battle of the brilliant, it turned out to be a case of the stupendous and the stupefied. Dr Crokes captain John Payne’s sending off three minutes before the break may have widened the gulf between the teams, but Corofin were not going to be touched here, such was the manner in which they controlled the middle third, constantly outnumbering Crokes, even prior to the red card.
The signs were ominous in the opening stages when Dylan Wall smacked Shane Murphy’s crossbar in the fifth minute. Three minutes later and a fine Mike Moloney blockdown fell into Kieran Molloy’s path and he had the vision to volley it past the Crokes’ cover to Jason Leonard — and Corofin were on their way.
Dr Crokes responded quickly with a Tony Brosnan free, but no sooner had the white flag been raised that Corofin were celebrating one of their own, Daithí Burke’s fizzing shot being touched over by Murphy.
Again, Crokes replied via Daithí Casey, one of only three points from play for the Killarney men, but they were never able to string together two scores in a row.
Corofin are the AIB Club Football All-Ireland Champions!— The GAA (@officialgaa) March 17, 2019
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The difference was a point when Corofin found the net a second time in the 22nd minute. Martin Farragher fed a reverse hand-pass to Daithí Burke on his shoulder. The midfielder then sent over another hand-pass to Ian Burke at the left of the square, who popped another transfer across Murphy to Gary Sice who rose to palm to the net.
Although it was in keeping with how they destroyed Nemo Rangers last year, Corofin manager Kevin O’Brien insisted there was no plan to go for goals early on: “In the game, Daithí got a point early on and it was a good goal chance. Dylan Wall was in as well, he hit the crossbar. We just seemed to be getting in behind them anytime we went forward.
The two goals, the first one in particular, was well-worked. We’re always looking to create the chance, we moved the ball through the hands as quick as possible. That gave us good opportunities. The sending off threw us a small bit in how we were going. But the two goals were great to get. Big scores.
Former Galway forward Sice followed up his goal with a free to make it 2-4 to 0-5. After another Brosnan free, Payne’s dismissal killed the game as a contest after he kicked out at Wall when winning a free after Wall’s high challenge.
Corofin were the only scorers for the remainder of the half as a reeling Crokes struggled in vain to reorganise. Sice provided two points, one a free, and Leonard obliged with the last of them in additional time to make it 2-7 to 0-6.
Crokes needed to start smartly, but they were to kick a series of wides that sunk any hope of a comeback. A Brosnan free did cancel out another Sice effort, but Murphy had to be on his toes to deny Daithí Burke a goal in the 36th minute.
Trailing by eight points, Crokes had a goal opportunity in the 38th minute, only for David Shaw to be denied, and when Brian Looney and Brosnan followed it up with wides from positions they would otherwise convert, the Kerry and Munster champions knew what kind of day it was going to be.
With Colm Cooper now on the field and doing his best to orchestrate a revival, Kieran Fitzgerald — later sent off for a second yellow card — cleared off the line from Michael Potts in the 42nd minute. After Sice and Casey exchanged frees, Corofin hit the next four to give themselves a cushion that allowed Kevin O’Brien to empty the bench to facilitate standing ovations coming off the field for some of his senior players. Daithí Burke was one of them, but not before he sent over his second point in the 55th minute.
Crokes had been well and truly measured by Corofin, although O’Brien maintained there wasn’t a lot of homework needed on the 2017 All-Ireland champions.
“They play the game a bit like us, we play the same way all the time. You don’t have to do an awful lot of analysis on the likes of Crokes. They’ve plenty of pace, they move the ball through the hand. I probably felt going into it that if we got on top in midfield which Ronan (Steed) and Daithi did very well there, we got a lot of breaks. That gave us a great platform to build on it.”
Scorers for Corofin:
G. Sice (1-5, 0-3 frees); J. Leonard (1-3); Martin Farragher (0-4); D. Burke (0-2); Mike Farragher, K. Molloy (0-1 each).
Scorers for Dr Crokes:
T. Brosnan (0-5, 4 frees); D. Casey (0-3, 2 frees); M. Burns, C. Cooper (free) (0-1 each).
B. Power; L. Silke, K. Fitzgerald, C. Silke; D. McHugh, D. Wall, K. Molloy; D. Burke, R. Steede; M. Lundy (j-c), J. Leonard, Mike Farragher; Martin Farragher, I. Burke, G. Sice.
Subs for Corofin:
C. Brady for L. Silke (inj h-t); C. Cunningham for D. McHugh (48); G. Burke for M. Lundy (53); C. McGrath for D. Wall (55); D. Canney for G. Sice (57); C. Brady for D. Burke (58).
K. Fitzgerald (60+1, second yellow).
S. Murphy; F. Fitzgerald, M. Moloney, J. Payne (c); S. Doolan, G. White, D. O’Leary; J. Buckley, D. Casey; M. Burns, G. O’Shea, B. Looney; T. Brosnan, K. O’Leary, D. Shaw.
M. Potts for S. Doolan (h-t); C. Cooper for G. O’Shea (37); J. Kiely for K. O’Leary (41); A. O’Sullivan for C. Cooper (blood, 44-45); A. O’Sullivan for D. O’Leary (46); E. Brosnan for D. Casey (53); J. Lyne for B. Looney (57).
J. Payne (27, straight).
B. Cassidy (Derry).