Mullinalaghta's Gary Rogers celebrates scoring his first half penalty against Dr Crokes. Photo: Twitter @AIB_GAA
The fourteen men of Dr Crokes Killarney showed their class as they came from behind to defeat gallant Mullinalaghta St Columba’s by five points, 0-18 to 2-7, in the AIB All-Ireland Club Senior Football Championship semi-final watched by an attendance of 4,064 in Semple Stadium, Thurles this afternoon.
AIB All-Ireland Club Senior Football Championship semi-final: Mullinalaghta St Columba’s 2-7 Dr Crokes Killarney 0-18
The Kerry and Munster champions, All-Ireland winners in 2017, will now face the reigning All-Ireland club champions, Corofin of Galway, in the All-Ireland showdown on St Patrick’s Day at Croke Park. That battle of the champions of the past two years promises to be a tremendous confrontation.
Dr Crokes were reduced to 14 men in the 20th minute following the dismissal of midfielder Johnny Buckley. Mullinalaghta had just struck for their second goal at that stage and with the Longford men leading, 2-2 to 0-5 after 23 minutes, and having numerical advantage everything was going to script or so it seemed for the brave men of the ‘half parish’ that straddles the Longford / Cavan border.
Unfortunately, in the face of adversity, Dr Crokes had the character and quality to raise their performance level considerably and from the 23rd minute until the final whistle they exerted a masterful stranglehold and outscored Mullinalaghta by 0-13 to 0-5, and of those five Mullinalaghta points, just two came from play.
At the interval, Dr Crokes were 0-11 to 2-3 ahead and by the 40th minute Mullinalaghta found themselves even further adrift, 2-3 to 0-16, and they just weren’t going to be able to make up that gulf. That was a ten point turn around during the second third of the contest and it left Mullinalaghta with a proverbial Everest to climb.
On the day, seven Dr Crokes players scored from open play and of their 0-18 total, just three came from dead ball situations.
In contrast, 1-4 of Mullinalaghta’s 2-7 total came placed balls and they’d four players that were on target from play. Those scoring statistics reflected the difference between the sides and the Killarney men also possessed considerable strength in depth and they were able to introduce Kerry greats Colm Cooper and Eoin Brosnan as subs late on.
Dr Crokes certainly won’t have things all their own way in the final against Corofin as Mullinalaghta did present with their defence with a few worrying moments. Both goalkeepers were also busy on the day with Mullinalaghta’s Patrick Rogers producing two particularly memorable saves.
Mullinalaghta’s 2018/2019 journey has been nothing short of sensational and while they’ll naturally be disappointed at failing to progress to the St Patrick’s Day Final, they can hold their heads high and be very proud of what they have achieved.
The joy, pleasure and pride they brought to their families and their parish was felt and enjoyed throughout Longford and across the country and that will never be forgotten. Christmas 2018 was the greatest festive season ever in Mullinalaghta and the three in a row Longford champions have left an enduring legacy thanks to their historic Leinster breakthrough.
Their triumph captured the nation’s imagination and we all say a huge thanks to Mullinalaghta for leading us on a marvellous journey and daring every small GAA club to dream of what can be achieved with hard work and sacrifice. Mullinalaghta Abú!
Caption: TG4 Man of the Match Gavin White. Photo: Twitter @AIB_GAA
Leinster champions Mullinalaghta enjoyed a lively opening. Jayson Matthews cleverly popped an angled handpass for David McGivney who clipped over the first score of this semi-final in the second minute.
Mullinalaghta ‘keeper Patrick Rogers came to his side’s rescue seconds later as his outstretched left hand prevented Kieran O’Leary’s stinging shot from flying to the twine.
Dr Crokes dangerman Tony Brosnan levelled proceedings with a 5th minute point, the first of his five 1st half points.
Mullinalaghta’s Donal McElligott was dragged down by Dr Crokes Brian Looney in the 6th minute and Tyrone referee Sean Hurson had no hesitation in awarding a penalty. And just as he did in the Leinster Final, Gary Rogers confidently dispatched his strike to the corner of the net and fans of the ‘half parish’ from North Longford were delirious. Mullinalaghta 1-1 Crokes 0-1.
Between the 8th and 12th minutes, Dr Crokes, managed by Pat O’Shea, reeled off four unanswered points per Tony Brosnan (2, one from a free), Gavin O’Shea and Brian Looney, thereby putting the Kerry and Munster kingpins ahead by the minimum margin, 0-5 to 1-1.
Gary Rogers and Rian Brady (free) were off target for Mullinalaghta who were beginning to find the going tough around the middle third of the pitch. Their challenge was ignited in the 19th minute.
Brady’s high shot, that was drifting wide, was kept alive and in play by the persistence of James McGivney whose strike was stopped by Dr Crokes ‘keeper Shane Murphy. And as the ball squirmed loose into the air across the small square, the inrushing Jayson Matthews finished it to the net, 2-1 to 0-5.
Dr Crokes were dealt what looked to be a sucker blow as midfielder Johnny Buckley was shown a straight red card following an off-the-ball clash with Aidan McElligott, however, as it turned out, his dismissal proved to be the signal for Dr Crokes to lift their performance level a few gears.
David McGivney’s accurate 23rd minute free made it 2-2 to 0-5 but Mullinalaghta played second fiddle over the closing minutes of the opening half as they were ruthlessly outscored, 0-6 to 0-1, by the slick moving Crokes attack. David Shaw (2), Tony Brosnan (2), Daithí Casey and Kieran O’Leary contributed the Crokes points and Mullinalaghta’s sole reply came courtesy of the impressive Donal McElligott. Half-time: Mullinalaghta 2-3 Dr Crokes 0-11.
Dr Crokes emerged for the second half like men possessed and you’d never think it was they who were operating with 14 players. They kicked five points inside the opening ten minutes thanks for Shaw, O’Leary (2), Brosnan and Casey and having trailed at one stage by 0-5 to 2-2, the Killarney club were now stamping their class and superiority all over this encounter and were seven points clear, 0-16 to 2-3.
To their credit, Mullinalaghta,showing the spirit that brought them to this stage of the championship, rallied bravely and they registered three points of their own between the 41st and 45th minutes through David McGivney (2 frees) and Brendan Fox to leave them four points adrift, 2-6 to 0-16.
Both goalkeepers produced excellent saves in quick succession. Dr Crokes Shane Murphy denied Aidan McElligott and Mullinalaghta’s Patrick Rogers had to be at his very best to deny Gavin White, who was later named as the TG4 Man of the Match.
Points by Kieran O’Leary and Micheál Burns made it 0-18 to 2-6 with 51 minutes elapsed. David McGivney (free) pulled a point back for Mullinalaghta in the 58th minute and this proved to the final score on a bitterly disappointing afternoon for the Longford kingpins. The closing ten plus minutes were very scrappy with referee Hurson issuing six yellow cards during that spell, three to each side.
Mullinalaghta St Columba’s: David McGivney 0-5 (0-4 frees), Gary Rogers 1-0 (penalty), Jayson Matthews 1-0, Donal McElligott 0-1, Brendan Fox 0-1
Dr Crokes Killarney: Tony Brosnan 0-6 (0-2 frees), Kieran O’Leary 0-4, David Shaw 0-3, Daithí Casey 0-2 (0-1 free), Micheál Burns 0-1, Gavin O’Shea 0-1, Brian Looney 0-1
MULLINALAGHTA ST COLUMBA’S: Patrick Rogers; Simon Cadam, Patrick Fox, Simon Cadam; Francis Mulligan, Shane Mulligan, Donal McElligott; Aidan McElligott, John Keegan; Gary Rogers, James McGivney, Brendan Fox; Jayson Matthews, Rian Brady, David McGivney.
Subs.: Michael Cunningham for F Mulligan (26 mins), Conor McElligott for B Fox (57 mins)
DR CROKES KILLARNEY: Shane Murphy; John Payne, Michael Moloney, Fionn Fitzgerald; David O’Leary, Gavin White, Shane Doolan; Johnny Buckley, Daithi Casey; Micheál Burns, Gavin O’Shea, Brian Looney; David Shaw, Kieran O’Leary, Tony Brosnan.
Subs.: Michael Potts for S Doolan (35 mins), Alan O’Sullivan for D O’Leary (49 mins), Colm Cooper for G O’Shea (50 mins), Eoin Brosnan for M Burns (57 mins), Jordan Kiely for T Brosnan (60 mins)
REFEREE: Sean Hurson, Tyrone.
Caption: An aerial tussle. #TheToughest. Photo: Twitter @AIB_GAA