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.
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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