1. Crokes control in Munster again
IF 2017 CULMINATED on a low note for Dr Crokes when they were toppled by Nemo Rangers, they restored themselves to the status of Munster title holders in style today. They may have shipped a late goal but were full value for their nine-point winning margin in the Gaelic Grounds.
A fifth provincial crown collected since 2011 is illustrative of their current excellence in Munster. This season has been particularly impressive. A 46-point aggregate win over the champions of Cork, Tipperary and Clare, while racking up 9-56 in the process. They will have high hopes in the All-Ireland series.
2. A learning day for Clare newcomers
In your first Munster final showing, having to face a team as talented and experienced as Dr Crokes makes it a tough task. For St Joseph’s matters were complicated even further this afternoon by shipping 1-6 at the start without reply.
It was an uphill struggle from there but they never capitulated. A goal-hungry team like Dr Crokes didn’t raise any further green flags while the hard running of the likes of Conor Cleary and Darragh McDonagh gave the Killarney club something to consider at the back.
For the large and vociferous Miltown Malbay faithful, there were a few scores to cheer and the reaction to McDonagh’s late goal seemed rooted in a desire to applaud a gutsy showing from their side.
3. A historic moment for Mullinalaghta
Four counties – Kilkenny, Louth, Longford and Wexford – are still to supply a club to the Leinster senior club football roll of honour. Now a Longford outfit has a chance to claim that prize in a fortnight as the county’s representatives will contest the decider for the first time.
Mullinalaghta certainly achieved that in style as they swept to an 18-point victory in today’s semi-final as they dismissed Carlow’s Éire Óg. That came off the back of a gritty win over Offaly’s Rhode last time out and sets up a decider against Kilmacud Crokes.
It’s a huge feat for a club not blessed with numbers or resources yet new Cavan boss Mickey Graham has ensured they punch above their weight.
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Corofin celebrate winning in the changing room.
Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO
4. Burke rounds off impressive year in style
Corofin’s 2-10 to 1-9 win over Ballintubber saw them complete the three-in-a-row in Connacht. It was also a fitting way for corner-forward Ian Burke, who scored 1-1, to round off an incredible year.
After helping Corofin defeat Nemo Rangers in the All-Ireland club final in March, Burke took his good form into the Galway jersey played a key role in their Connacht title success.
Burke showed great link-up play and a scoring touch as Galway reached the All-Ireland semi-final for the first time since 2001, beating Kerry along the way. Earlier this month, he was Galway’s first All-Star recipient since 2003.
And Burke bookended the year by lifting Galway and Connacht crowns with Corofin, with another tilt at the All-Ireland just around the corner. 2018 will be a hard one to beat.
5. Kilmacud and Portlaoise play out entertaining encounter
On a weekend where Central Council approved radical rule changes to the game, Kilmacud Crokes and Portlaoise served up a thoroughly enjoyable hour of attacking football.
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Both sides played straight up 15-on-15 with three men in their respective full-forward lines. There were at least a dozen genuine goal chances, with four of them converted, and 29 scores altogether. It was football as it was intended to be played and shows there are still managers around who want to play an attacking style.
Portlaoise’s Ricky Maher and Paul Cahillane were in good form as were Kilmacud attackers Pat Burke and Dara Mullin. Now Kilmacud, with their 4,000 strong club membership, face little Mullinalaghta in the Leinster final with their parish estimated to have between 350 to 400 people living there.
–Compiled by Fintan O’Toole and Kevin O’Brien
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