A game that ebbed and flowed and was in the melting pot until the final 10 minutes eventually swung the way of the champions who goaled in the 53rd and 63rd minutes to send them through to the final for the sixth time in eight years.
The final score line ( 2-19 to 2-10) does scant justice to the proceedings when for the most part there was never more than a score between the sides.
We started in the best possible fashion when in form half forward Gavin O’Brien burst through from the stand side following a lay off from Barry John and he found the net with a low drive for an inspirational score; Tommy soon added a point from play and we were 1-01 to nil in front before Kieran O’Leary found his range to slot over after just 6 minutes. A major talking point before this score was the decision by the referee to issue a black card to Chuckie ( Carroll) who seemed to be going only for the ball and when he collided with O’Leary but the ref adjudged he was guilty of a hand trip and harshly sent him to the line – see below.
The scores were level on a further two occasions but Dr Crokes were finding it easier to hit the target and were two to the good on 24 mins, 0-10 to 1-05 when a great ball into Barry John in the right corner saw him place a high ball across the square and Gavin O’Brien, alive to the threat gathered and goaled in the same movement. A Kieran O’Leary point on the stroke of half time tied up the game though we were unlucky again when Tom Hoare made ground and laying off to Gavin it seemed a score was inevitable but Crokes somehow managed to clear – half time, 2-05 to 0-11.
The second half saw us take off where we left off with great play from David in the middle ably assisted by Con Barrett; Karl Mullins pointed after a great turnover by Con and David soon followed up to send us two into the lead; Tony Brosnan then levelled matters from play and a free before Jack Savage pointed following great work by Tom Hoare and again we led by one.
The next 10 minutes were frantic as first Gary Kissane pulled off a great stop from Johnny Buckley with Shane Murphy firing the resultant “45” to his left and wide; the kick out saw a melee develop and the referee issuing a 2nd yellow to Jack Savage reducing us to 14 men; Colm Cooper, in as a second half substitute was then dismissed on a black card before Shane Murphy found his range with a pointed “45” to tie up the game again. Murphy then had the depart the action when he was injured when fielding a long range ball and the “45” was duly landed by David to put us back in the lead again, 2-09 to 0-14.
Brian Looney then levelled the scores before Micheál Burns gave the champions the lead, for the first time, all this after 53 mins.
From the resultant restart we went short but pressure on the defender resulted in a turnover and a goal from sub Jordan Kiely and he quickly added another point to send the Killarney side into a four point lead, 1-17 to 2-10. Johnny Buckley added another point and the game was as good as over when Crokes notched a second goal on 63 mins when we were turned over when on the attack.
The final whistle followed soon afterwards and Dr Crokes were through to another final – for our part, every man played his part in a pulsating game which was only decided in the final quarter. The loss of Chuckie so early in the game was a major blow and the injuries suffered by Gavin O’Brien and Barry John both in the first half curtailed their involvement – however, each and every player gave of their all in the quest to reach a county final and against any other opposition today it would have probably been good enough.
Team: Gary Kissane, Danny O’Sullivan, Ross O’Callaghan, Shane Brosnan, Chuckie Carroll, Karl Mullins (0-01), Cormac Coffey, David Moran ( 0-02, 1 “45”), Darragh McElligott, Jack Savage (0-03), Gavin O’Brien ( 2-01), Barry John Keane ( 0-02), Tommy Walsh ( 0-01), John Ferguson.
Subs: Tom Hoare, John C O’Connor, Gearóid Savage, Padraig Griffin.