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Castlebar Mitchels earn hard-fought victory over Dr Crokes to reach All-Ireland Club SFC final

The Kerry side failed to recover from the loss of their talisman Colm Cooper in the first half.

Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Updated at 18.03

Castlebar 3-13

Dr Crokes 1-11

CASTLEBAR MITCHELS EARNED an impressive and hard-earned 3-13 to 1-11 victory over Dr Crokes in the All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final in O’Moore Park this afternoon.

The loss of Colm Cooper after 18 minutes proved pivotal for Crokes, with the Killarney side only trailing their opponents by one point at half-time, before fading badly as the match progressed in the second period.

With the game in the balance, the Crokes defence failed to deal with a high ball, and Tom King took full advantage of their hesitation, producing an emphatic finish after finding himself through on goal.

Patrick Durcan then sealed Castlebar’s win late on with a well-taken third goal, and his second of the game.

It could have been different however, if Cooper hadn’t been forced off injured. The Gooch suffered a knee injury, after falling awkwardly while scoring a point, amid what appeared to be an innocuous collision with an opponent.

Crokes had established a 0-6 to 0-4 lead by that stage, but ostensibly rocked by the loss of their talisman, they gradually lost control of the game thereafter.

Durcan scored his first of two goals on 22 minutes, converting a shot that rebounded into his path following a good save by Crokes goalkeeper David Moloney.

The Kerry side’s response was swift however, with Kieran O’Leary restoring their lead with another goal, after skilfully eluding his marker.

Castlebar finished the half strongly though, with three consecutive points, to give them a one-point advantage going in at the break.

The game remained even enough in the opening minutes of the second half, but King’s all-important goal put some daylight between the sides.

And as the game entered its final ten minutes, Castlebar made their dominance count — additional points by Ger McDonagh, Aidan Walsh and Neil Lydon, as well as Durcan’s last-gasp strike, ultimately sealed their passage into the final.

Scorers for Castlebar: Patrick Durcan 2-0, Tom King 1-3 (0-2f), Richie Feeney 0-2, Barry Moran 0-2, Aidan Walsh 0-2, Neil Lydon, Donie Newcombe, Ger McDonagh, Neil Lydon 0-1 each.

Scorers for Dr Crokes: Kieran O’Leary 1-0, Alan O’Sullivan 0-3 Ambrose Donovan 0-2, Colm Cooper 0-2 Kieran Ward, Fionn Fitzgerald, Daithi Casey, Johnny Buckley 0-1 each.

CASTLEBAR MITCHELS: Ciarán Naughton; Alan Feeney; Ray O’Malley, Eoghan O’Reilly; Donie Newcombe, Tom Cunniffe, Patrick Durcan; Barry Moran, Ger McDonagh; Neil Lydon, Aidan Walsh, Richie Feeney; Danny Kirby, Tom King, Neil Douglas.

Subs: David Joyce for Alan Feeney (52), James Durcan for Richie Feeney (52 mins).

DR CROKES: David Moloney; Fionn Fitzgerald, Mike Moloney, John Payne; David O’Leary, Eoin Brosnan, Kieran Ward; Ambrose O’Donovan, Johnny Buckley; Alan O’Sullivan, Daithi Casey, Brian Looney; Kieran O’Leary, Colm Cooper, Shane Doolan.

Subs: Micheál Burns for Colm Cooper (18), Shane Meyers for Kieran Ward (30), Gavin O’Shea for Ambrose O’Donovan (49), Chris Brady for Brian Looney (53).

Referee: Cormac Reilly (Meath)

As it happened: Castlebar Mitchels v Dr Crokes, All-Ireland Club SFC semi-final>

Worrying scenes as Gooch limps out of All-Ireland Club semi after knee injury>

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Paul Fennessy

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