Derry’s St Mary’s lift MacRory Cup to reach All-Ireland semi-final against Wexford’s St Peter’s

DERRY’S ST MARY’S Magherafelt are celebrating MacRory Cup glory for the first time after they saw off St Colman’s Newry today by 0-19 to 0-13, to land the biggest prize in Ulster colleges football.

Victor for the Derry school propels them into an All-Ireland senior semi-final meeting next Wednesday against the Leinster champions, St Peter’s from Wexford.

The other semi-final in the battle for the Hogan Cup takes place tomorrow in Ennis between St Brendan’s Killarney and St Colman’s Claremorris.

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At the Athletic Grounds in Armagh today, it was a six-point success for St Mary’s in a game where they were in front 0-8 to 0-6 at the break. St Colman’s rallied in the second half to trail at one stage by 0-15 to 0-13 in a game where they were chasing their 20th title.

But St Mary’s finished strongly to hit four unanswered points and seal a famous success.

Kevin Small and Declan Cassidy starred for the winners as they made amends in style for losing the two previous finals.

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Kerry man O’Connell outstanding as Cuala become first Dublin club to lift All-Ireland hurling title

Source: The42.ie/YouTube

Cuala 2-19Ballyea 1-10

Kevin O’Brien reports from Croke Park

CUALA BECAME THE first hurling side from the capital to win All-Ireland honours on St Patrick’s Day after a commanding victory over Ballyea at Croke Park.

Goals from Colm Cronin and Jake Malone sent the Dalkey club on the way to victory as they dealt far better with the occasion than their Clare opponents.

After a nervy opening quarter Cronin’s three-pointer sent the Dublin champions into a 1-2 to 0-1 lead and from that point they never looked like being beaten.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Niall Deasy’s goal left Ballyea within four on 50 minutes, but Cuala hit 1-5 without reply to seal their maiden win.

Kerry native Darragh O’Connell was outstanding at centre-field, firing over three from play on the way to collecting the man of the match award.

Dublin sharpshooter David Treacy was clinical throughout and posted 0-9, while county footballer Con O’Callaghan was a menace at full-forward. O’Callaghan scored a brace of points and assisted Cronin’s first-half goal.

Cuala isolated O’Callaghan to good effect inside, with Mark Schutte and Cian Waldron operating close to the half-forward line.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

In his first game back at Croke Park since 2013, Tony Kelly was unable to bend the game to his will as he often has done in the past. He was well-marshalled at midfield by converted wing-back John Sheanon in the opening half, and Malone in the second.

Even a final quarter switch to centre-forward failed to ignite a performance from Kelly, who was given no time or space in possession in the middle third.

Kelly showed his frustration by picking up a 27th minute yellow card for an untidy swing across the body of Sean Treacy. It was an incident which summed up his afternoon.

After a nervy start, Cuala hit the net in the 15th minute to lead by 1-2 to 0-1. John Sheanon launched a skyscraper towards Con O’Callaghan, whose neat touch sent Cronin through to drill home from close range.

Ballyea responded with the next three scores but Cuala finished off the half with a pair of Treacy frees and a point apiece from Darragh O’Connell and John Sheanon.

Pearse Lillis spurned a golden goal chance shortly after the restart, as four frees from David Treacy left Cuala 1-12 to 0-7 ahead after 41 minutes.

Niall Deasy’s radar improved after half-time and he converted four frees to bring Ballyea back within six as we headed down the stretch.

The Clare champions had the margin down to three by the 50th minute, after Lillis angled a long ball into Deasy, who slammed the ball past Sean Brennan.

Cuala’s response was cold and clinical. Darragh O’Connell raced through and fired over, before Jake Malone cantered down the heart of the Ballyea defence and finished into the bottom corner.

That cut Ballyea’s revival short and long-range scores from O’Connell, Mark Schutte and a Colum Sheanon brace put the icing on Cuala’s 2-19 to 1-10 victory

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Scorers for Cuala: David Treacy 0-9 (0-8f), Colm Cronin 1-1, Darragh O’Connell 0-3, Jake Malone 1-0, Con O’Callaghan 0-2, Colum Sheanon, John Sheanon and Mark Schutte 0-1 each.

Scorers for Ballyea: Niall Deasy 1-6 (0-5f), Pearse Lillis 0-2, James Murphy and Gary Brennan 0-1 each.

Cuala

1. Seán Brennan

4. Simon Timlin
3. Cian O’Callaghan
6. Paul Schutte

8. Jake Malone
5. Seán Moran
2. Oisin Gough

7. John Sheanon
9. Darragh O’Connell

13. Seán Treacy
11. Colm Cronin
12. David Treacy

15. Mark Schutte
14. Con O’Callaghan
10. Cian Waldron

Subs

19. Colum Sheanon for Waldron (46)
20. Nicky Kenny for Cronin (62)

Ballyea

1. Kevin Sheehan

2. Joe Neylon
3. Jack Browne
4. Brian Carrig

5. Gearoid O’Connell
6. Paul Flanagan
7. James Murphy

8. Tony Kelly
9. Stan Lineen

10. Niall Deasy
13. Pat Joe Connolly
12. Cathal Doohan

15. Pearse Lillis
11. Gary Brennan
18. Damien Burke

Subs

17. Martin O’Leary for Connolly (37)
21. David Egan for Burke (40)
19. Brian Murphy for Neylon (55)

Referee: Fergal Horgan (Tipperary).

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Cooper goal helps Dr Crokes end 25-year wait for All-Ireland title with win over Slaughtneil

Colm Cooper celebrates All-Ireland club final glory.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Dr Crokes
Slaughtneil 1-7

Fintan O’Toole reports from Croke Park

IT’S TAKEN THEM 25 years but Dr Crokes finally claimed another All-Ireland senior club football title today in Croke Park, with Colm Cooper striking home the first half goal that helped propel the Killarney club to victory against Slaughtneil.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

For the second time in three years, the Derry club ended up on the wrong side of the result in this decider.

They fought ferociously hard but being reduced to 14 men when midfielder Padraig Cassidy struck Kieran O’Leary off the ball in first-half injury time, was a huge setback.

Indeed that time frame before the interval was crucial as Dr Crokes kicked two excellent points courtesy of Brian Looney, to go in at the break ahead by 1-6 to 1-5.

Referee Maurice Deegan brandishes a red card to Pádraig Cassidy.

The second half was not easy on the eye but in a dour struggle Dr Crokes got the job done, a decade after losing out at this stage after a replay to Crossmaglen Rangers.

Having also lost three All-Ireland club semi-finals in a row, Dr Crokes were determined to end their run of heartbreak in this competition and they ground a two-point win, successfully retaining possession near the end to close out the match.

Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The first half had been a far brighter affair with Slaughtneil taking the initiatve to go in front 1-4 to 0-3 by the 19th minute. The goal had arrived courtesy of Cassidy, running clear and cleverly sidestepping goalkeeper Shane Murphy before rolling the ball to the net.

Slaughtneil looked full of confidence with Shane McGuigan and Christopher Bradley also scoring some stylish points from play.

But Dr Crokes recovered with Cooper planting the ball in the net in the 22nd minute after a superb charging run up the pitch by Daithi Casey created the opening. That helped make amends for Gavin White drilling a shot wide earlier on for Dr Crokes when through on goal.

Looney and Casey fired over some brilliant points in the opening half while captain Johnny Buckley played his part as he contributed three important marks at midfield.

Being reduced to 14 men was a major blow for Slaughtneil but players like Brendan Rodgers, Chrissy McKaigue and Bradley did their best to drive them on.

Entering the final quarter they were only a point adrift, 1-7 to 1-6, but Dr Crokes young substitutes made an impact with Mícheál Burns lobbing over a point from a tight angle and Jordan Kiely winning a free that Cooper converted.

A 54th minute Paul Bradley free for Slaughtneil reduced the deficit to two points but they couldn’t get their hands on the ball in the closing stages.

Dr Crokes ran down the clock with man-of-the-match John Payne and midfielder Ambrose O’Donovan giving towering displays as the Killarney club were crowned champions.

Colm Cooper celebrates with manager Pat O’Shea at the final whistle

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Scorers for Dr Crokes: Colm Cooper 1-2 (0-2f), Daithi Casey (0-2f), Brian Looney 0-3 each, Mícheál Burns 0-1.

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Scorers for Slaughtneil: Pádraig Cassidy 1-0, Paul Bradley 0-3 (0-3f), Christopher Bradley 0-2, Francis McEldowney, Shane McGuigan 0-1 each.

Dr Crokes

1. Shane Murphy

4. Luke Quinn
2. John Payne
3. Michael Moloney

5. David O’Leary
6. Gavin White
7. Fionn Fitzgearld

8. Ambrose O’Donovan
10. Johnny Buckley

9. Alan O’Sullivan
11. Gavin O’Shea
12. Brian Looney

15. Kieran O’Leary
14. Daithi Casey
13. Colm Cooper

Subs

17. Mícheal Burns for O’Sullivan (39)
22. Jordan Kiely for O’Shea (39)
20. Shane Doolan for David O’Leary (48)
19. Tony Brosnan for Looney (57)
28. Eoin Brosnan for Casey (62)
24. Christopher Brady for Kieran O’Leary (62)

Slaughtneil

1. Antoin McMullan

3. Brendan Rodgers
5. Paul McNeill
4. Karl McKaigue

7. Keelan Feeney
6. Chrissy McKaigue
2. Francis McEldowney

8. Patsy Bradley
9. Pádraig Cassidy

12. Meehaul McGrath
13. Christopher Bradley
10. Shane McGuigan

14. Sé McGuigan
15. Cormac O’Doherty
11. Paul Bradley

Subs

25. Brian Cassidy for O’Doherty (47)
21. Ronan Bradley for McGrath (52)
17. Barry McGuigan for Feeney (52)
20. Gerard Bradley for Sé McGuigan (54)

Referee: Maurice Deegan (Laois)

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Lovely moment as Dr Crokes captain Buckley lifts All-Ireland trophy with 10-year-old fan

DR CROKES ARE celebrating tonight their return to the All-Ireland club winners enclosure.

Dr Crokes captain Johnny Buckley lifts the cup with 10-year-old Amy O’Connor.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The Killarney club ended a 25-year wait since their only previous title and they will savour today’s final victory over Slaughtneil in Croke Park

In a passionate winning speech, captain Johnny Buckley spoke about the significance of the success for everyone connected with the club.

And Kerry senior Buckley also highlighted one of the Dr Crokes supporters, 10-year-old Amy O’Connor who has been battling illness over the past year. She was brought up to the podium in the Hogan Stand to lift the Andy Merrigan Cup with Buckley.

Posted by on Wednesday, 30 June 2021

It was a lovely moment and Buckley referenced the major impression that Amy had made when talking to team in the build-up to the final.

The Kerry senior emulated his father Mike – a current selector and member of the 1992 Dr Crokes team – in winning today.

Dr Crokes have had plenty All-Ireland disappointments over the last decade with three semi-final losses and a defeat in a final replay. They’ll appreciate this breakthrough.

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Incredible gesture by @BuckleyJohnny super player but an even better guy! 👏👏👏

— Darran O'Sullivan (@Darransull86) March 17, 2017

Source: Darran O’Sullivan/Twitter

Lovely gesture from Johnny Buckley and Crokes👏🏻

— Emlyn Mulligan (@emlynmulligan) March 17, 2017

Source: Emlyn Mulligan/Twitter

Source: The42.ie/YouTube

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6 changes to Cork team for clash with Meath and ex-Leitrim player named on bench

THE CORK FOOTBALLERS HAVE rung the changes for Sunday’s Allianz Division 2 football league tie with Meath, as they bid to bounce back from their recent disappointing loss to Clare.

Manager Peadar Healy has made six alterations to the starting side and there is also a notable inclusion on the bench in former Leitrim player Kevin Conlon, who transferred this year from his native St Patrick’s Dromahair to Cork club Douglas.

Ken O’Halloran is named in goal for Cork while the other five changes for the game in Páirc Uí Rinn are in attack with captain Paul Kerrigan the only survivor from the defeat to the Banner.

He’s joined in the full-forward line by Colm O’Neill and Peter Kelleher, while there’s a new half-forward line of Ian Maguire, Mark Collins and Kevin O’Driscoll.

Ryan Price, Brian O’Driscoll, Luke Connolly, John O’Rourke, Niall Coakley and Donncha O’Connor are the players to make way.

Cork

1. Ken O’Halloran (Bishopstown)

2. Michael Shields (St Finbarr’s)
3. Tom Clancy (Clonakilty)
4. Kevin Crowley (Millstreet)

5. Tomas Clancy (Fermoy)
6. James Loughrey (Mallow)
7. Stephen Cronin (Nemo Rangers)

8. Aidan Walsh (Kanturk)
9. Ruairi Deane (Bantry Blues)

10. Ian Maguire (St Finbarr’s)
11. Mark Collins (Castlehaven)
12. Kevin O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaigh)

13. Colm O’Neill (Ballyclough)
14. Peter Kelleher (Kilmichael)
15. Paul Kerrigan (Nemo Rangers) – Captain

Subs:

16. Ryan Price (O’Donovan Rossa)
17. Barry O’Driscoll (Nemo Rangers)
18. Colm O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaigh)
19. Conor Dorman Bishopstown)
20. Donal Óg Hodnett (O’Donovan Rossa)
21. John McLoughlin (Kanturk)
22. John O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers)
23. Kevin Davis (O’Donovan Rossa)
24. Kevin Conlon (Douglas)
25. Matthew Taylor (Mallow)
26. Niall Coakley (St Judes)

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‘Young O’Leary made a meal of it’ – Slaughtneil unhappy with Cassidy’s red card

FOR THE SECOND time in three years, Slaughtneil fell at the final hurdle in their bid to win the All-Ireland club title.

This was worlds apart from their blowout 10-point defeat to Corofin in the 2015 decider, but a red card for key midfielder Paudie Cassidy before half-time severely hampered their chances.

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Losing a dynamic threat from midfield forced Slaughtneil to retreat further back and slow down the pace of the game. Just four scores were added between the teams after the restart, and Crokes were happy to play keep-ball as the clock ticked down.

Slaughtneil’s final score on 53 minutes brought them to within two, but they would touch the ball just twice more as the Kerry men closed out a cagey affair.

Cassidy was dismissed for landing a strike into the midriff of Kieran O’Leary right in front of the referee and linesman.

Mickey Moran’s right hand man and selector John Joe Kearney pulled no punches in his assessment of the red card after the game.

“He was under pressure and an innocuous flick of the hand was all that he done,” said Kearney.

“Young O’Leary made a meal of it, to be quite honest. If he had have been hurt he wouldn’t have been up two minutes later to go out and play again.

“You can’t argue, he done something he shouldn’t have done. I’m sure he’ll regret it for manys a day. Having said that, it was an innocuous flick with the back of the hand. Manys another fella would have rolled up and got up and got on with it.

“As I see it there was an opportunity that he saw to get somebody sent-off and I’ve no regrets about saying that. I’m hurting a bit at the minute because we lost our attacking midfielder and I’m sure he’s hurt more than I’m hurting. ”

Kearney concluded: “If you lose your attacking midfielder it sets you back and it set us back. Having said that fair play to the lads, they didn’t give up.”

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Match-ups and kick-outs crucial as Kerry look to strip Dublin of their ‘invincibles’ tag

JIM GAVIN’S RECORD-setting Dubs stand on the verge of another significant feat today.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

While they’ll stress that winning the All-Ireland is all that matters, there’s no doubt the opportunity to achieve the GAA’s longest unbeaten run has been playing on the minds of the Dublin players this week.

It’s important in terms of the legacy they leave behind and it’s safe to assume that, given how ambitious this Dublin side is, this is a record they want. Win today and they’ll equal the 34-game unbeaten run of the Kerry side of the early 1930s.

That Kingdom team which emerged from the ashes of the Civil War went down as one of the greatest of all-time. They won six All-Irelands between 1923 and 1933, including claiming Sam Maguire four times in-a-row, in addition to 10 Munster SFC crowns and four straight National League titles.

Since 2011, Dublin have annexed four All-Irelands, four National League titles and six Leinster crowns. The last team to beat them was Kerry on 1 March 2015 in Killarney, meaning it’s been over two years since Gavin’s men have tasted defeat.

One notable feature of the back-to-back champions is their superiority over Kerry and Mayo, their closest challengers for Sam. In the eight games they’ve contested against both sides in the last two years, Dublin have won six and drawn two.

Kerry have lost four straight games to their rivals, and tonight provides a huge opportunity to end that dismal run. In that game two years ago, Kerry brought a huge level of physicality and it’s something they’ll need to replicate if they’re to be the team that ends Dublin’s unbeaten streak.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Eamonn Fitzmaurice needs to get the match-ups right and it’ll be interesting to see if he decides to pair Jack Barry, a phenomenal athlete, up with Brian Fenton who is the finest midfielder in the country at present.

James O’Donoghue’s absence through injury will hurt the Kingdom, who’ll look to keep Jack Savage and Paul Geaney close to goal.

If the supply line is good, the aforementioned duo will have an entertaining battle with Philly McMahon and Jonny Cooper inside.

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Kerry could do with upping their scoring rate from the half-forward line, but they do have an extremely dangerous bench with Darran O’Sullivan, Stephen O’Brien and Barry John Keane all held in reserve.

Ronan Shanahan, Tadhg Morley, Jack Barry, Adrian Spillane, Kevin McCarthy and Savage are all relatively inexperienced at this level and Fitzmaurice is clearly looking to build a squad for later in the summer.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

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If those six youngsters can put up big performances it’ll serve them well later in the summer.

They haven’t been named to start, but there’s every chance Bernard Brogan, Diarmuid Connolly and Cian O’Sullivan could feature at some point as Gavin looks to integrate some of his veterans back into the team.

Another battle to look out for in Tralee is the kick-outs. Kerry frustrated Stephen Cluxton for a key spell before half-time last August and it’s an area they’ll likely target once again.

As The42 analyst Rob Carroll put it after that game:

“Dublin look to return the ball to play within six seconds if possible. That’s one of Cluxton’s key stats. With such a fast restart, teams — with the best will in the world — find it hard to stay switched on straight after an attack to regroup and take position for the subsequent kickout.

“The kickout immediately following the goal took an age to restart as Darran O’Sullivan needed treatment. This gave Kerry time to compose themselves from the goal and form a solid defensive shape for the next kickout.”

So we can expect Kerry to push up on Cluxton’s restarts only when they have a break in play before the ball goes dead, or if a stoppage prevents Cluxton from taking a quick one.

Kerry will look at tonight as an opportunity to put right some wrongs from recent seasons. If they can disrupt Dublin’s pattern of play and keep things tight at the back, then they’ve every chance of putting an end to Dublin’s ‘invincibles’ tag.

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Repeat exams not Champions League, and Fargo Boyle rigs Cheltenham – It’s Comments of the Week

IT’S BEEN ANOTHER action-packed week of sport at home and abroad.

From Cheltenham to All-Ireland club finals and plenty of European football in between, there was lots up for discussion.

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Here’s what you had to say.

Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh.

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

It was a slow start to the Cheltenham festival for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, and Douvan’s poor performance in the Queen Mother Champion Chase was one of the most notable.

Irishoversea had it all figured out.

On Thursday, Manchester United beat FC Rostov in the Europa League, and during play Marcus Rojo stopped for a quick bite to eat.

Marcos Rojo.

Source: Rui Vieira

With less than 20 minutes remaining, manager Jose Mourinho handed a banana to Ashley Young to pass to Rojo — who ate it on the pitch — in highly unusual scenes.

Gary Sheehan can see what’s coming next.

During the week Brazil legend Gerson said that Neymar would not even get on the bench for the Selecao side of 1970.

Under an article entitled ‘Neymar would not make Brazil ’70 side’, Padraig Mulholland gave us a laugh with this one.

On Tuesday night, Iker Casillas broke a record as he made his 175th appearance in a UEFA club competition. He made his debut in September 1999, and this week the Spaniard surpassed the previous record-holder Paolo Maldini.

Robert O Farrell said what everyone was thinking, right?

17-year-old Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz was forced to miss his side’s Champions League second leg clash against Atletico Madrid due to “important exams”.

Jim Bird got there before anyone else could say it.

Jack Kennedy celebrates winning with Labaik.

Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

In other news relating young stars, 17-year-old Jack Kennedy guided Labaik to victory in Cheltenham’s opening race on Tuesday.

ktsiwot predicts big things for the Dingle teenager.

We brought you random transfer news on Tuesday — Former Chelsea, AC Milan and Real Madrid midfielder Michael Essien has signed with Indonesia’s Persib Bandung, the highest-profile player to join a team in the country for years.

The Ghanaian 34-year-old signed a one-year contract for an undisclosed sum, but Brian Buckley is disappointed he’s not moving elsewhere.

AP McCoy.

Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A life-size bronze statue of legendary jockey AP McCoy was unveiled at Cheltenham race course on the opening morning of this year’s festival.

Now retired, McCoy stood for photos alongside the statue with his family.

Dylan Doocey made sure he didn’t miss a golden opportunity.

Johnny Buckley lifts the cup with Amy O’Connor.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

As Dr Crokes captain Johnny Buckley accepted the All-Ireland trophy, he highlighted one of the supporters, 10-year-old Amy O’Connor who has been battling illness over the past year.

She was brought up to the podium in the Hogan Stand to lift the Andy Merrigan Cup with Buckley.

Gearoid said it all.

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Big boost for Limerick as Nash makes u-turn and returns to training

A LITTLE OVER a month after leaving the Limerick hurling panel due to ‘personal reasons’, Barry Nash returned to training with John Kiely’s side last week.

The 20-year-old last month left the senior intercounty panel ahead of Limerick’s Allianz Hurling League campaign but now appears to have made himself available again ahead of the championship.

Limerick management this afternoon confirmed that Nash, who was man-of-the-match in the 2015 Bord Gáis Energy All-Ireland U21 hurling final, is back in the panel.

Speaking at the league launch in Croke Park in February, Kiely insisted that the door remained open for the forward to return.

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Limerick Senior Hurling 2017
The Limerick Senior Hurling Management team wish to confirm that Barry Nash returned to training this week. pic.twitter.com/uSDjhzvySV

— Limerick GAA (@LimerickCLG) March 18, 2017

Source: Limerick GAA/Twitter

Nash made his championship debut for Limerick last summer, featuring in all three of the Treaty men’s outings in 2016.

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The Gooch and Eamonn Fitzmaurice to discuss potential Kerry return ‘in the next week or so’

Updated at 16.00

IT WAS THE one piece of silverware that had eluded Colm Cooper in his storied career, but the decorated forward finally got his hands on the Andy Merrigan Cup yesterday.

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The 33-year-old was clinical as ever in front of goal, and his tally of 1-2 paved the way to victory for Dr Crokes as they ran out two-point winners over Slaughtneil at Croke Park.

Finally, stalwarts like Cooper, Eoin Brosnan and Ambrose O’Donovan followed in the footsteps of the Class of 92 as the Kerry kingpins were crowned All-Ireland champions for a second time in their history.

Cooper was a mascot that day 25 years ago, but he was a central figure today as Crokes put some harrowing defeats behind them.

“I don’t think words can describe how I’m feeling right now,’  an emotional Cooper said last night. “It’s relief, it’s joy. It’s a lot of things.

“We’ve been up, we’ve been down, we’ve lost, we’ve come close, we’ve had setbacks, we’ve had injuries. We’ve had it all.

“To win out there, and I know it wasn’t vintage Dr Crokes by any manner or means, but sometimes they’re games you just have to win and possibly we wouldn’t have won those a few years ago so we’re delighted with it.

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Couldn't be happier for @colmcooper13 The man is a legend.

— Shane Lowry (@ShaneLowryGolf) March 17, 2017

Source: Shane Lowry/Twitter

Huge congrats to @colmcooper13, @brosnaneoin & all at @drcrokesgaa on yesterday's All-Ireland Senior Football Club Championship victory!

— Jack Wilshere (@JackWilshere) March 18, 2017

Source: Jack Wilshere/Twitter

An All-Ireland final loss to Crossmaglen in 2007 coupled with three semi-final defeats in-a-row between 2012 and 2014 made this victory all the sweeter for the Kerry star.

He suffered a horrific knee injury in their last four defeat to Castlebar Mitchels in 2014, and many felt it put an end to his changes of ever going all the way in the competition.

He spent the next 14 months on the sidelines as part of a painstaking recovery and in 2015 admitted he came “pretty close” to quitting the game at the time.

“It was an incredibly low point,” Cooper said of the injury. “I didn’t know whether I’d even get back to play with Kerry never mind win an All-Ireland club with Dr Crokes.

Cooper sustained a fractured kneecap and ruptured anterior cruciate ligament while playing for his club in 2014

Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“That’s where these guys have hung in and cajoled me along and thankfully I’ve got back to playing a bit of better football this year and I’m enjoying it.

“I’ve pretty much poured everything into this since we lost with Dublin out here in the semi-final last year. I poured everything into Dr Crokes because I knew there wouldn’t be too many more opportunities for us again.

“It was great, Eoin Brosnan coming on at the end, I’m so happy for so many players, Luke Quinn did his cruciate, Kieran O’Leary his achilles, all tough injuries, out for a year, but finally it came right for us today so that’s the most pleasing thing for me.”

Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Cooper has yet to make a decision on his inter-county future with Kerry, but that’s not something he’s going to rush into.

“I spoke with Eamonn at Christmas. I said, ‘do your thing, I’ll do my thing and we’ll chat when the Crokes journey is over’.

“Look, I envisage that we’ll talk in the next week or so and thrash it out and see where we go. I’m sure we’ll come to the right conclusion.”

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