Dr Crokes look in ominous form as they blast past Castlehaven
Dominant display shows Kerry side are near certainties for third Munster title in a row
Dr Crokes’ Colm Cooper is tackled by Dan Hegarty of Castlehaven. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Dr Crokes 1-11 Castlehaven 0-8: The drumbeat of intent and purpose around this Dr Crokes side is steadily increasing in tempo. They dealt with Castlehaven yesterday like the afternoon was nothing more than a quick pitstop along the road leading to Croke Park on St Patrick’s Day. Fill up, fuel up, keep the engine running.
They’ve done four-in-a-row in Kerry and will most likely tidy up a third Munster title on the bounce in the next few weeks. The history of the club championships is littered with teams who put up those kind of provincial numbers without cashing in an All-Ireland. Crokes look in no mood to join them.
They were always just far enough out of Castlehaven’s reach here to be comfortable. The Cork champions came with a far less compliant gameplan to last year’s Munster final and still only ended up a single point closer at the end.
With 13 men behind the ball, they looked to limit Crokes’ scoring chances but never quite got there, giving up 1-11 plus a dozen wides and another half-dozen kicks that dropped short. On a better shooting day, the Killarney side could have run up a nasty tally. Still, as co-manager Vince Casey insisted afterwards, it was as close as anyone has come to the Crokes all season.
“It’s only when you get out of Kerry that you really see what it’s like. We’ve been comfortable in Kerry, we haven’t been asked many questions. We were asked them today.
“Castlehaven have definitely improved as a team – they did well in the Cork championship where they dug out a lot of games in the last 10 minutes and we didn’t want to be in that position today. Thankfully the goal went in and there was only going to be one winner after that.”
The goal was shambolic. A Daithí Casey shot/cross/whatever 11 minutes from time dropped into the Haven square where goalkeeper Paudie Hurley ought to have dealt with it. He didn’t and substitute Gavin O’Shea got the last touch not 60 seconds after coming off the bench. It was a scruffy goal to kill off a game that had frequently been better dressed than the conditions should have allowed.
On a day of constant drizzle, only four points came from placed ball all afternoon. Four of the six Crokes forwards scored points from play before half-time, with Kieran O’Leary and Brian Looney especially making a mockery of the soft ground and wet ball.
At the other end, Stephen Hurley – older brother of Cork full-forward Brian – fired over a terrific brace of points from out on the left sideline to keep Haven in it. But Crokes’ scores always seemed to come easier and after Castlehaven wing-back Chris Hayes blazed over when through on goal two minutes short of the break, it looked inevitable that the miss would cost them.
A green flag for the Cork side at that point would have drawn them level. As it was, Casey tacked on another fine point from distance before half-time to send the home side in three clear. Even when they came out for the second half without the dangerous O’Leary – concussed in an off-the-ball incident – there was never a point where Crokes’ passage was in danger.
To his credit, Stephen Hurley continued his one-man resistance and eventually ended the day with four top-drawer points against his name. But the Cork side never got cut the gap to anything less than three points and O’Shea’s goal pulled the plug well before the end.
Crokes ran out the last 10 minutes with playing keep-ball, at one stage putting together 32 passes before Alan O’Sullivan kicked their last point of the day. It says much for the room they had to spare that Colm Cooper’s orchestration of that closing period was his most significant contribution to the day.
No matter. There’ll be other days. Few would bet against them stretching to March.
DR CROKES: D Moloney; J Payne, L Quinn, K Ward; E Brosnan, F Fitzgerald, S Myers; A O’Donovan, J Buckley; A O’Sullivan (0-2), D Casey (0-4, 0-1 free), B Looney (0-3, 0-1 45); K O’Leary (0-2), C Cooper, C Brady. Subs: J Doolan for O’Leary (half-time), G O’Shea (1-0) for Brady (47 mins), D O’Leary for Myers (53 mins), S Doolan for Casey, M Moloney for Payne, (both 58 mins).
CASTLEHAVEN: P Hurley; L Collins, D Limrick, T O’Leary; D Cahalane (0-1, 45), R Whelton, C Hayes (0-1); S Dineen, D Hurley (0-1); J O’Regan, M Collins, Stephen Hurley (0-4); S Cahalane, B Hurley (0-1, free), S Nolan. Subs: D Hegarty for Nolan (half-time) M Hurley for L Collins ( 47 mins) Shane Hurley for Hayes (53 mins)
Referee: Rory Hickey (Clare).