DERRY GAA: All Ireland Final heartbreak for Slaughtneil

AIB All Ireland Senior Club Championship Final

Friday, 17th March 2017, 7:14 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:05 am
Slaughtneil's Pdraig Cassidy scores his side's 14th minute goal in AIB All-Ireland Football Senior Club Championship Final in Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile

Dr Crokes (Kerry) 1-9 Slaughtneil 1-7

A first half red card for midfielder Padraig Cassidy proved crucial as Slaughtneil's hopes of a first All Ireland Senior club Championship title were ended by Kerry's Dr. Croke's in Croke Park on St Patrick's Day.

The Emmet's, playing against the wind in the first half, were always well in the game in the opening half, especially after Cassidy had got on the end of a brilliant move started by Brendan Rodgers to score the Derry side's goal after 14 minutes.

Dr. Crokes captain Johnny Buckley lifts the Andy Merrigan Cup after the AIB All-Ireland Football Senior Club Championship Final. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Leading 1-04 to 0-03 at that stage, Slaughtneil looked composed but Cassidy's red card in first half injury time changed the complexion of the game. The midfielder has been superb throughout his club's run to Croke Park and looked inconsolable after referee Maurice Deegan showed ordered him off following an altercation with Croke's Kieran O'Leary.

It handed the Kerry side the initiative and they took full advantage with county star Colm Copper finishing with 1-02 to finally cap an incredible career with the elusive club championship medal that had eluded him until now.

Cooper, 33, grabbed the crucial 20th-minute goal that ultimately separated the teams in a gutsy encounter as the Emmet's came up agonisingly short at this stage for the second time in three seasons.

The experience of the Kerry men was evident after the break as they controlled the game and used the extra man superbly, never allowing Slaughtneil to close the gap despite the feverish work rate of Mickey Moran's men.

Dr. Crokes captain Johnny Buckley lifts the Andy Merrigan Cup after the AIB All-Ireland Football Senior Club Championship Final. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

The Derry side could point to more than a few questionable decisions going against them but with only five points scored after the break, Dr. Croke's hitting three, they always did just enough to stay ahead even if it looked cynical at times.

For Slaughtneil there is nothing but pride left. It won't feel like it tonight but this team, indeed the entire club, has rightly won the admiration of the entire country. Not just for their county and provincial treble or even the All Ireland camogie title but for the manner with which they have conducted themselves throughout the run.

They have made Slaughtneil a club recognised by every Gael in Ireland. They have made Slaughtneil something to aspire to in the eyes of other clubs and that's an achievement which is harder won than any title.

Dr Crokes: S Murphy; J Payne, M Moloney, L Quinn; D O'Leary, G White, F Fitzgerald; A O'Donovan, J Buckley; A O'Sullivan, G O'Shea, B Looney (0-03); K O'Leary, C Cooper (1-02, 0-02f), D Casey (0-03, 0-02f).

Subs: M Burns (0-01) for O'Sullivan, J Kiely for O'Shea, S Doolan for D O'Leary, T Brosnan for Looney, E Brosnan for Casey, C Brady for K O'Leary.

Slaughtneil: A McMullan; B Rodgers, P McNeill, K McKaigue; K Feeney, C McKaigue, F McEldowney (0-01); Patsy Bradley, P Cassidy (1-00); Se McGuigan, Paul Bradley (0-03, 0-03f), M McGrath; Shane McGuigan (0-01), C Bradley (0-02), C O'Doherty.

Subs: B Cassidy for O'Doherty, R Bradley for McGrath, B McGuigan for Feeney, G Bradley for Se McGuigan,

Referee: M Deegan (Laois).