Casey shoots down UCC and now has to face the music

AIB Munster Senior Football Championship Final
Dr Crokes 3-14 UCC 2-10
By Murt Murphy for
Former top US golfer Ray Floyd once said "If I play my best, I can win anywhere in the world against anybody."- change that to what well could be Crokes mantra " If we play our best, we can beat any team in the country" following yesterday's power packed display  against the free scoring students from UCC, with the Cork champions having eight starters from the Kingdom.
But eleven months of torment - eleven months of waiting, had a happy ending for 2006 Munster Club Champions, Dr Crokes who taught the students from UCC a lesson in the art of clinical finishing and so captured the Munster crown, at a wet and windy Fitzgerald Stadium Killarney on Sunday afternoon.
It also ended UCC's sixteen match unbeaten run, as the Crokes having been rocked by an early Stephen O'Brien goal, responded like a python when they scored two rapid fire goals in a two minute spell from Kieran O'Leary and Daithi Casey, who helped UCC win the Sigerson Cup and Cork SFC, but now it was a classic case of gamekeeper turn poacher, as Crokes struck the front and they were never subsequently to be caught.
This was an open and honest game of football between two teams, who wanted to play football and in that respect it was refreshing in the extreme, with not a foul blow or a dirty tackle and certainly neither side displayed any negativity.
UCC boss Paul O'Keeffe was philosophical afterwards and had no complaints about the result "We did a lot of work in the first 15 minutes and I thought that we were on top. After we got our goal we were five points up and exactly where we wanted to be but then we conceded a goal straightaway," O'Keeffe said.
"We lost our focus a little bit, and then conceded another goal shortly after that. That was the turning point. We were on the back foot after that, probably for the rest of the game to be honest."

However once Com Cooper turned up the heat early in the second half, it was curtains for UCC as the lights went out the Munster ambitions.
"At half-time I thought we were rightly in it, the game was in the melting pot but then we came out and conceded three points in a row and it just took the steam out of us really." Explained a rueful O'Keeffe

Dr Crokes boss Harry O'Neill was delighted to have atoned for last January's galling defeat to Nemo Rangers so this was a sweet win for a team that has been doing things the hard way this year
"" The wind was strong in the opening half and it was difficult to play against and UCC set out their stall early by putting thirteen men behind the ball and then they try and hit you on the break. We found it difficult to get the ball up the field and we had something like twelve turnovers in the opening half and that gave them back a lot of hard won ball. Then Stephen O'Brien got a great goal and they jumped 1-4 to 0-2 up but then we got those two quick fire goals and that set us on the way.

We needed a kick in the backside against Kilmurry-Ibrickane and that came when Daithi Casey was sent off and today it was that UCC goal and the shock of going five points down after twenty minutes that appeared to reignite us and I think once we responded the way we did, then we got to half time, a point in front, we felt that with the wind to our backs in the second half that we were in a strong position to kick on. We are able to hold our shape a lot better and get the ball into our inside line.

Then Colm Cooper chalked up three quick points in as many minutes, at the start of the second half and it gave us the cushion that we needed. This seemed the lift the confidence of the whole team and the whole lot of them seemed to drive on for the rest of the game. "
UCC began with a defensive formation, but a string of points from Jamie O'Sullivan, Paul Geaney, William Kenney and Mike Griffin as Crokes could only muster two points from Daithi Casey frees.
Then UCC struck with a 20th minute Stephen O'Brien goal and suddenly, the alarms bells were starting ring in the Crokes camp, as the Students led 1-4 to 0-2.
However Crokes proved once again what a deadly arsenal they have up front, as they responded with two goals in two minutes.
Firstly, Fionn Fitzgerald and Shane Myers set up, Kerry star Kieran O'Leary who finished low to the net and that was quickly followed by a Daithi Casey goal, set up by Colm Cooper and Kieran O'Leary. This gave Crokes a one point lead and they were never to relinquish this, as they retired 2-4 to 1-6 in front at the interval.
Crokes resumed a revitalized side with Colm Cooper taking charge as UCC wilted and three Cooper points inside three minutes had the Kerry champions on their way.
Cooper was everywhere and players like Casey, O'Leary, Doolan and Brian Looney just kicked points for fun as UCC ran out of steam.
Daithi Casey killed off his college team mates in the 55th minute with a cracking goal and despite a scrambled Paul Geaney goal a minute later, its Crokes who will face Crossmaglen in the All-Ireland semi final in February when the Kerry side will seeking revenge for their 2007 final defeat to their Northern opponents .

Dr Crokes: D Casey 2-3 (3f), K O'Leary 1-1, C Cooper, B Looney 0-4 each, E Brosnan, A O'Donovan 0-1 each.
UCC: P Geaney 1-2 (2f), S O'Brien 1-0, B Coughan 0-2 each, J O'Sullivan, W Kennedy, M Griffin, N Daly, S Kiely, G O'Grady (f) 0-1 each.

Dr Crokes: A Kelly; J Payne, L Quinn, D O'Leary; F Fitzgerald, E Brosnan, S Myers; A O'Donovan, J Buckley; A Kenneally, D Casey, B Looney; C Cooper, K O'Leary, J Doolan.
Subs: B McMahon for J Buckley (53); C Brady for J Doolan (58); S O'Neill for a Kenneally (60).
UCC: S Mellett (Cork), M Hickey (Cork), P Crowley (Kerry), M Galvin (Kerry); T Clancy (Cork), N Daly (Roscommon), S Kiely (Cork); W Kennedy (Cork), J O'Sullivan (Kerry); B Coughlan (Cork), M Griffin (Kerry), JB Spillane (Kerry); S O'Brien (Kerry), G O'Grady (Kerry), P Geaney (Kerry).
Subs: D Culhane (Kerry) for M Hickey; S Beston (Cork) for J O'Sullivan (41); A Greaney (Kerry) for M Griffin (43);
Referee: Rory Hickey (Clare).