AIB All-Ireland Club Senior Football Championship Semi-Final – Ballymun Kickhams (Dublin) 1-10 Dr. Crokes (Kerry) 0-9

Ballymun make hay as Crokes fall flat

Ballymun Kickhams (Dublin) 1-10 Dr Crokes (Kerry) 0-9

By John Fogarty (GAA Correspondent) for the Irish Examiner newspaper

“Did you ever hear of the horror story?” asked Noel O’Leary of the press afterwards. “This is what it was.” The Dr Crokes manager couldn’t have put it better about a team performance that couldn’t have been much worse. This was a frighteningly bad display by a team that had coasted its way through Munster, lighting up several wintry Sunday afternoons with champagne football. Yet with spring in the air, they came up well short in front of a poor 2,278 crowd in Semple Stadium.

O’Leary acknowledged Ballymun deserved their win but there were elements of the game that went unfairly against Dr Crokes, namely Marty Duffy’s refereeing. Five minutes after picking up a yellow card, the influential Philly McMahon, who operated with aplomb in a new midfield role, hauled down Daithí Casey as he was about to shoot towards goal. Yet Duffy elected not to punish him. To add insult to injury, Chris Brady’s low shot to Sean Currie’s right was saved by the Ballymun goalkeeper. The decision not to punish McMahon aggrieved O’Leary. “And yellow card afterwards. Did he duck out the field? He must have. The referee didn’t see him. “No fella wants to see a fella sent off but ref it properly anyway. If you’re going to ref it ref it clear. He saw it, I didn’t see it.”

O’Leary also grumbled about Duffy’s officiating in the main. “Look, the GAA have to wake up a small bit. They’re making rules but Marty, this fella today, he didn’t come to play with the rules. “One (Ballymun) fella there was tying his lace — I thought that rule was gone. For tying your lace you get on with the game. “Look, Ballymun were the better team on the day and we can’t complain but the GAA would want to have a look at themselves.”

What will hurt Dr Crokes most is Ballymun didn’t have to play out of their skins to win this game. Ted Furman may have been their goal-scorer but as manager Paul Curran said afterwards he didn’t contribute much else after. Furman only kicked the one wide but the Dublin and Leinster champions amassed 11 over the 60-plus minutes compared to Dr Crokes’ five. Ballymun were never made to pay for their erratic shooting although much of that was down to the work-rate of their defence. Alan Hubbard gave a performance that will surely have made Jim Gavin sit up and take notice while James Burke and Sean George did fine detailing jobs on Kieran O’Leary and Colm Cooper respectively.

For Cooper, who we judge by a higher standard, it was an All-Ireland semi-final to forget. His dummy solo and pass to set up Chris Brady for a first-half score was a rare moment of inspiration for a player who was hounded by the Ballymun defence. By the closing stages, the movement of the Crokes inside forward line, with Cooper having moved out, was non-existent. Eoin Brosnan, whose switch to midfield for the Killarney club made it a two-point game with 19 minutes to go after a rallying third quarter, was out of gas by the end. Furman’s goal was what separated the teams at the break, 1-4 to 0-4, although Crokes were fortunate to be so close with Ballymun have racked up seven wides.

But for a brilliant instinctive save from David Moloney in the 20th minute when Dean Rock squared a hand-pass to Kevin Leahy for a close range palm, they could have been further behind. George, though, had to stretch seconds later to break up an O’Leary pass intended for Cooper. Ballymun didn’t just work harder — they were cleverer too. After a variety of deliberate lateral passes by his team-mates, Cooper was forced to foul the ball having been swamped by opposing defenders in the 27th minute.

A short time later, Ballymun found themselves confronted by a similarly packed defence only for Furman to sweep a crossfield kick-pass to Davey Byrne who duly knocked it over. John Payne denied McMahon Ballymun’s third goal chance five minutes into the second half and when Crokes’ one opportunity for a three-point score came Sean Currie was equal to Brady’s penalty. Four unanswered Crokes scores in seven minutes, two from Casey and Cooper and Johnny Buckley notching one each, brought them back into the affair but Ballymun’s threat was emphasised by Moloney’s block on Leahy in the 52nd minute. Two Rock points widened the gap to four and all Crokes could return fire with was a Fionn Fitzgerald point.

Manager O’Leary was beaten was unbowed. “Where are we going to go from here? We’re going to rally and we’re going to be back here again next year. We’re going nowhere. I’m a bad loser, I don’t go nowhere but we will be back. How long did it take them to win a county championship? It took them three or four years before they beat South Kerry. This is going to be the same thing. As long as these fellas keep knuckling down to it and give a bit extra. But these (Ballymun) lads are flying fit. Any chance that we can test them!”

Scorers for Ballymun Kickhams: D Rock 0-5 (3 frees); T Furman 1-1; Davy Byrne, P McMahon, J Whelan, Derek Byrne 0-1 each.

Scorers for Dr Crokes:, D Casey 0-3 (1f); C Cooper 0-2; J Doolan, C Brady, J Buckley, F Fitzgerald 0-1 each.

BALLYMUN KICKHAMS: S Currie; E Dolan, S George, E Dolan; A Hubbard, K Connolly, J Burke; P McMahon, J McCarthy; Davy Byrne, K Leahy, J Whelan; C Weir, D Rock, T Furman.

Subs: E Reilly for Weir (46); Derek Byrne for Leahy (inj), S Forde for Connolly (both 55).

DR CROKES: D Moloney; J Payne, M Moloney, F Fitzgerald; L Quinn, E Brosnan, S Myers; A O’Donovan, J Buckley; K O’Leary, D Casey, B Looney; C Brady, C Cooper, J Doolan.

Subs: S Doolan for O’Donovan (inj 19); D O’Leary for Myers (43); K Ward for Quinn (45); G O’Shea for Brady (55).

Referee: Marty Duffy (Sligo)

 

Brilliant Ballymun qualify for maiden final

Report from the GAA.ie web site

Dr. Crokes (Kerry) 0-9 Ballymun Kickhams (Dublin) 1-10

Ballymun Kickhams are through to the AIB GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Club Championship final for the first time in their history following a four-point defeat of Dr. Crokes at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Saturday. Ballymun led by 1-4 to 0-4 at the break, with Ted Furman scoring the only goal of the game on 17 minutes. Furman, who has been Kickhams’ main goal threat throughout the campaign, gathered a long ball from Philly McMahon and drove an unstoppable shot past Mike Maloney, the Crokes goalkeeper. Crokes were out of sorts in the first half. Colm Cooper scored his first score of the game just before the interval, when he popped the ball over the bar following great work by Kieran O’Leary. Ballymun then hit the first three scores of the second half, with Rock, who finished with 0-5, and McMahon amongst the scorers.

However, that ‘Mun burst came only after Dr Crokes’ Chris Brady had missed a penalty. McMahon fouled Daithí Casey but Ballymun goalkeeper Seán Currie did well to stop Brady’s effort. That miss seemed to shake Crokes into life, as they kicked four points in a row to come storming back into the game. Cooper started the purple patch, Casey added two and Johnny Buckley fired over from play to leave just two points in it with nine minutes to go.

However, when the game was there for the taking, it was Ballymun who stepped up. Rock landed two crucial scores in the closing stages and Derek Byrne wrapped the win up in injury time. It was cruel on Dr. Crokes, who lost at the same stage last year, but Paul Curran’s side were excellent throughout and thoroughly deserved the win.

Ballymun Kickhams Scorers: Dean Rock 0-5 (0-3f), Ted Furman 1-1, Philly McMahon, Davey Byrne, Kevin Leahy, Derek Byrne 0-1 each.

Dr. Crokes Scorers: Daithí Casey 0-3 (0-1f), Colm Cooper 0-2, Fionn Fitzgerald, Jamie Doolan, Chris Brady, Johnny Buckley 0-1 each.

Dr. Crokes Profile

Aheadof their AIB GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Club Championship Semi-Final against Ballymun Kickhams on Saturday, we take a closer look at Kerry and Munster champions Dr. Crokes.

Crokes face the Dublin champions Ballymun Kickhams at Semple Stadium, Thurles on Saturday at 4pm. GAA.ie will have live updates from the game, as well as from the other semi-final featuring Crossmaglen and St Brigid’s (2pm) throughout the afternoon.

Who are they?

Founded in 1886, Dr Crokes GAA Club is just two years younger than the Association itself. They are named after Dr. Thomas Croke, the Archbishop of Thurles and Emly and the first patron of the GAA. Nine-time winners of the Kerry senior football championship, the Killarney-based outfit have dominated the competition in recent seasons, claiming three-in-a-row in 2012 with victory over Dingle. Munster champions in 1991, 1992, 2006, 2011, 2012, their only All-Ireland club title to date came way back in the 1991-’92 season.

Path to the semi-final?

They beat Dingle by 2-13 to 0-8 in the county final, with Brian Looney kicking 1-3 in a very convincing win. Their biggest test in the Munster Championship came in the quarter-final stages against Kilmurray-Ibrickane (Clare), where the champions were subjected to a sustained onslaught in the closing stages but held on to record a 2-8 to 0-13 win. Clonmel Commercials (Tipperary) and Castlehaven (Cork) were then beaten by 11 and seven-point margins respectively, as Crokes retained the provincial crown.

In the All-Ireland quarter-final, Crokes eased to a 3-12 to 0-6 win over London side Tír Chonaill Gaels at Ruislip. Kieran O’Leary was the star of the show, scoring 1-2, while Chris Brady kicked two goals in three first half minutes as Crokes had the game wrapped up at the break, leading at that stage by 3-7 to 0-3.

Players to Watch?

Colm Cooper, obviously, is their key man, but his Kerry team-mate Kieran O’Leary is just as important to Crokes, with some of his best displays coming in a black and gold jersey. Kerry captain Eoin Brosnan is their rock at No. 6 but has been hampered by a calf injury in recent months. Brian Looney (pictured below) and Chris Brady, along with Cooper, do the damage up front.

Strengths?

Crokes’ star-studded attack, with Colm Cooper and Kieran O’Leary pulling the strings, naturally grabs all the attention, but the Killarney side are built on very solid foundations. They didn’t concede a single goal in the Kerry county final, three games in Munster and the All-Ireland quarter-final. In those five games alone, Crokes have scored 6-53 and only conceded 0-37, leaving them in credit to the tune of 34 points.

Still, their greatest strength is the way they play the game, wedded as they are to the traditional brand of free-flowing football that all the best Kerry teams are renowned for. Kick-passing and fast-paced, slick forward movement feature prominently in their game plan.

On the sideline?

After Harry O’Neill’s decision to step down last February, joint managers Noel O’Leary and Vince Casey have stepped seamlessly into the breach. O’Leary was a member of the All-Ireland winning Crokes team in 1992, while Casey is the club chairman.

Track Record?

All-Ireland champions in 1992, when they beat Thomas Davis of Dublin in the final on St Patrick’s Day with former Kerry manager Pat O’Shea scoring 1-3 in the decider. That remains the club’s only All-Ireland title. O’Shea did guide them back to the final in 2007, but they were beaten by Crossmaglen Rangers after a replay. The Armagh champions put an end to their All-Ireland aspirations again last year with Crokes losing 2-8 to 3-8 in the semi-final.