It wasn’t pretty but one of the greatest exponents of Gaelic Football completed a remarkable medal collection as Dr. Crokes were crowned All-Ireland champions.
Twenty-five years after being a mascot on his club’s greatest day, Colm ‘Gooch’ Cooper helped the Kerry side bridge the gap to run out two point winners.
The first half was entertaining fare but Padraig Cassidy’s sending off before half-time had a major bearing. His punch at Kieran O’Leary saw Slaughtneil reduced to 14 players after a promising start that saw them lead by four.
Shane McGuigan and Christopher Bradley put the Ulster club ahead as they aimed to repeat the feats of their camogie players two weeks earlier. Dr. Crokes responded with three points through Brian Looney, Cooper and Daithi Casey on 11 minutes but the contest turned straight after.
Cassidy was the hero as he finished a move to an empty net to put Slaughtneil ahead before points for Christopher and Paul Bradley made it 1-4 to 0-3. Dr. Crokes needed a reply and Cooper took Casey’s ball on 19 minutes to shoot low to the net before Casey levelled the teams.
Francis McEldowney restored Slaughtneil’s advantage but two Looney flags allowed Dr. Crokes a 1-6 to 1-5 interval lead. Slaughtneil supporters had issues with referee Maurice Deegan who they felt didn’t punish Dr. Crokes fouls sufficiently. But there could be no complaints about Cassidy’s dismissal.
The second half was a dogged affair. Paul Bradley did level on 37 minutes but points for Casey, Micheal Burns and Cooper had the Kerry side in winning position before Bradley scored again.
But Slaughtneil couldn’t get possession as Dr. Crokes played down the clock to land the Andy Merrigan Cup.
Dr. Crokes – Colm Cooper 1-2, Brian Looney 0-3, Daithi Casey 0-2, Micheal Burns 0-1.
Slaughtneil – Padraig Cassidy 1-0, Paul Bradley 0-3, Christopher Bradley 0-2, Francis McEldowney 0-1, Shane McGuigan 0-1.
Dr. Crokes – Shane Murphy; John Payne, Michael Moloney, Luke Quinn; David O’Leary, Gavin White, Fionn Fitzgerald; Ambrose O’Donovan, Alan O’Sullivan; Johnny Buckley, Gavin O’Shea, Brian Looney; Colm Cooper, Daithi Casey, Kieran O’Leary.
Slaughtneil – Anton McMullan; Francis McEldowney, Brendan Rogers, Karl McKaigue; Paul McNeill, Chrissy McKaigue, Keelan Feeney; Patsy Bradley, Padraig Cassidy; Shane McGuigan, Paul Bradley, Meehaul McGrath; Christopher Bradley, Se McGuigan, Cormac O’Doherty.