Club SFC semi-final: Durkan double sinks Crokes

February 15, 2014

Daithi Casey of Dr Crokes is tackled by Castlebar Mitchels Alan Feeney.
©INPHO/Donall Farmer.
Castlebar Mitchel's 3-13
Dr Crokes 1-11

Castlebar Mitchel's can start making plans for the All-Ireland club football final on St. Patrick's Day after a brace of goals from wing back Patrick Durcan helped them to a surprise victory over Dr Crokes at O'Moore Park.

Durcan netted in either half as the Connacht champions produced a magnificent performance to knock out their highly-rated opponents, for whom the All-Ireland remains as elusive as ever. Crokes never really recovered from the loss of their star player Colm Cooper to injury in the 22nd minute as Castlebar went on to lead by 1-7 to 1-6 at the end of a highly-entertaining opening half.

Pat Holmes' men twice put clear daylight between the sides in the second half, only for Crokes to cut the gap to the minimum each time. But the Mayo men weren't to be denied as a late scoring burst which yielded an unanswered 1-4 sealed their place in the final.

With An Taoiseach Enda Kenny among the attendance, Castlebar were quickly into their stride with points from Barry Moran - who was only cleared to play after having his Connacht final red card rescinded - and centre forward Aidan Walsh inside the first two minutes. Walsh's effort could easily have been a goal if he had managed to keep his shot down.

Kieran O'Leary hit an excellent reply for Crokes before corner back Fionn Fitzgerald burst forward to blast over the equaliser with a goal at his mercy. Colm Cooper then put the team in black and gold in front for the first time after O'Leary's initial shot had been brilliantly blocked by full back Eoin O'Reilly. Alan O'Sullivan sent over Crokes' fourth successive point via the inside of the left post to give them a double-scores lead, 0-4 to 0-2, after 11 minutes.

Mitchel's had restored parity, however, by the end of the first quarter thanks to a Danny Kirby skyscraper and Barry Moran's second after he had left Eoin Brosnan in his wake.

Alan O'Sullivan edged Crokes back in front before Cooper found a gap between two defenders to put two in it again. Unfortunately for the Munster champions, the Kerry captain was injured in the process and eventually hobbled off following a three-minute stoppage.

Cooper had barely left the fray when Crokes were dealt another setback in the shape of a Patrick Durcan goal for Castlebar. The number seven bundled the ball to the net at the second attempt after goalkeeper David Maloney could only parry his initial shot.

The Killarney men responded in the best possible fashion with a goal of their own from Kieran O'Leary. Micheal Burns, who had come on for Cooper, picked out O'Leary with a brilliant pass and the number 13 did the rest to put Crokes two in front again, 1-6 to 1-4, after 24 minutes.

But they failed to score again in the half as three points in-a-row gave Pat Holmes' men the slenderest of leads at the break. Richie Feeney, who had been quiet up until then, narrowed the gap before Tom King levelled from a free after Fionn Fitzgerald had needlessly fouled.

And deep into injury-time, wing back Donie Newcombe ensured Mitchel's went into the interval with their noses in front when the ball was worked back to him by Feeney after Danny Kirby had blazed across the face of goal.

Castlebar picked up from where they had left off at half-time with points from Tom King (free) and Feeney to go three clear, 1-9 to 1-6, after 36 minutes. Daithi Casey responded with a beauty before Ambrose O'Donovan left the minimum in it.

But just when it appeared Crokes had regained the momentum, Castlebar swooped for their second goal in the 41st minute. Richie Feeney's high delivery towards Barry Moran on the edge of the square broke kindly to Tom King who raced clear to find the net via the inside of the right post.

Faced with a four-point deficit for the first time and with their talisman watching from the stand, Crokes had it all to do, but they rolled up their sleeves and replied with three unanswered points between the 43rd and 47th minutes per O'Donovan, his midfield partner Johnny Buckley and wing forward Alan O'Sullivan.

Surprisingly, they failed to score again as the Mayo men finished with a flourish. King put them two in front from a free before three points from Ger McDonagh, Aidan Walsh and Neil Lydon in the space of two minutes pushed out their lead to four again, 2-13 to 1-11, with three minutes remaining.

As Crokes tried desperately to rescue the situation, their fate was well and truly sealed in the first minute of stoppage-time when the rampaging Moran teed up Durkan for his second goal.

Castlebar Mitchel's - C Naughton; R O'Malley, T Cunniffe, A Feeney; D Newcombe (0-1), E O'Reilly, P Durcan (2-0); G McDonagh (0-1), D Kirby (0-1); A Walsh (0-2), R Feeney (0-2), N Douglas; T King (1-3, 0-3f), B Moran (0-2), N Lydon (0-1). Subs: J Durcan for R Feeney, D Joyce for A Feeney.

Dr Crokes - D Moloney; L Quinn, E Brosnan, F Fitzgerald (0-1); K Ward, D O'Leary, M Moloney; J Buckley (0-1), A O'Donovan (0-2); A O'Sullivan (0-3), D Casey (0-1), B Looney; K O'Leary (1-1), C Cooper (0-2), S Doolan. Subs: M Burns for Cooper, S Meyers for Ward, G O'Shea for O'Donovan, C Brady for Looney.

Referee - C Reilly.

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