County SFC: It’s a Crokes and South Kerry final
AS a statement, defending champions returning to a County Final with a double score win and knocking five goals past their opponents in the process is quite impressive. What’s maybe more impressive about Dr Crokes’ win last Saturday over West Kerry was how their younger contingent contributed off the bench and gave the Crokes management something to think about in their claims for places in future starting teams.
West Kerry were on a hiding to nothing in advance considering their opponent’s might but they did the best they could in asking a few questions of Crokes at times.
Jason Hickson found a way through after 23 seconds for the district side but it was to be the only time they led as the move for Crokes’ first goal in the ninth minute showed the difference between the two sides. Eanna Ó Conchúir had squandered a promising opportunity for West Kerry two minutes earlier but when Tony Brosnan and Gavin O’Shea combined for Daithi Casey to power through for the game’s first goal and a lead of 1-2 to 0-1, the Killarney side never looked back from there. Casey rattled the crossbar in search of a second goal in the 21st minute but an injury to Tomas Ó Sé proved to be a setback for West Kerry as Hickson was dismissed before the break for a second yellow card.
Crokes’ lead was 1-9 to 0-5 at the interval but any thoughts of a turnaround where dispelled three minutes after the restart when a certain Colm Cooper showed extremely vigilance and ruthlessness. Observing the fact referee Brendan Griffin was bringing a free forward for dissent, Cooper sprinted to the 13 metre line and with only Tomas Mac an tSaoir to beat blasted past the West Kerry goalkeeper for a 10 point lead. The game lulled for a period, black cards to Fionn Fitzgerald and Michael Moloney hardly bothered Crokes with their dominance. However the injection of some young blood off the bench in the
form of Paul Clarke and Jordan Kiely in particular raised their levels with a ‘45’ converted by Shane Murphy in the 42nd minute and the Crokes ‘keeper stopping West Kerry from close range at the other end.
Mac an tSaoir had done well to save from Clarke in the 48th minute but coming towards the end, the West Kerry defence wilted with the fresh legs of the Crokes, Clarke getting his goal with three minutes of normal time left. Jordan Kiely banged in a further two to bring Crokes’ winning margin to 14 points on a day his fellow 2014 All-Ireland winning Minor Micheal Burns impressed. John Payne and Gavin White had solid outings in the Crokes defence despite Dara Ó Sé and Sean M Ó Conchúir doing their best to keep West Kerry going in the face of such dominance by their opponents. Crokes’ participation in the Munster Senior Club Championship had already been confirmed in advance with the defeat of Kerins O’Rahillys by South Kerry but perhaps South Kerry itself serves as the perfect challenge for the Crokes in advance of going beyond the county bounds.
Despite everything they have achieved beating South Kerry in a County Final remains the one thing they haven’t done and now they have the Andy Merrigan Cup in their possession they will feel they are in the right place now to get such a win over the side they have shared dominance of the County Championship with this Millennium. West Kerry meanwhile had a solid outing this year in reaching the last four, more long-term assessment of their prospects can’t really be however until we see how An Gaeltacht fare out in the Intermediate Final.
DR Crokes: Shane Murphy (0-1, 1‘45’), John Payne, Fionn Fitzgerald, David O’Leary, Michael Moloney, Alan O’Sullivan, Gavin White (0-1), Johnny Buckley (0-1), Daithí Casey (1-1), Micheál Burns (0-2), Gavin O’Shea, Brian Looney (0-2), Colm Cooper (1-3, 1-2f), Luke Quinn, Tony Brosnan (0-2) Subs: Paul Clarke (1-0) for Looney, Shane Doolan for Fitzgerald (Black Card), Ambrose O’Donovan for Johnny Buckley, Jason Lyne for Moloney (Black Card), Jordan Kiely (2-0) for Cooper and David Shaw for O’Sullivan.
Colm Cooper scoring a great point against West Kerry in the County SFC semi-final in Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney on Saturday. Photo by Michelle Cooper Galvin
West Kerry’s Cathal Ó Lúing is tackled by Gavin White, Dr Crokes, in the County SFC semi-final in Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney on Saturday. Photo by Michelle Cooper Galvin