O’RAHILLYS TAKE ON DR CROKES
SPEAKING ahead of next Sunday’s semi-final Kerins O’Rahillys manager Micheal Quirke speaks of his team being in a much better place having beaten Dr Crokes a month ago in the Championship than had they lost. And he is absolutely right.
At half time in the that Round 2 match O’Rahillys were 10 points adrift of the county champions. After 50 minutes the Tralee club still trailed Crokes by nine points. It was so inconceivable at that stage that Dr Crokes - above any team - would throw away that sort of a lead in that little amount of time that the spectators were streaming out on to Lewis Road well before Tommy Walsh struck for the first of his two late goals that afternoon in Fitzgerald Stadium.
That O’Rahillys turned that deficit around and pummelled the Crokes into submission with blitzkrieg football in the last 15 minutes was ballsy and brilliant. That they could do it again is highly questionable. In those few intermittent weeks Dr Crokes have worked considerably on their defensive structure and application to the point that they locked down neighbours Legion with embarrassing ease in their quarter-final meeting 10 days ago.
The trick for O’Rahillys, one suspects, is not to fall into arrears but to try to build up a lead big enough that they will have something to defend and try to hang on to in the final quarter. Easier said that done, of course.
It goes without saying that O’Rahillys need their main quartet of David Moran, Tommy Walsh, Barry John Keane and Jack Savage to play out of their skins: Moran to dominate midfield, Savage to nail every free kick, Keane to score at least half a dozen demoralising points, and Walsh to wreak havoc and lash in goals like he did in that previous meeting. If those four players can do all that O’Rahillys should be half way there.
Beyond that they need Con Barrett to play the best he ever has alongside Moran, they need defenders Cormac Coffey and Ross O’Callaghan to show why they were involved with the Kerry seniors this year, and they need Gavin O’Brien and John Ferguson and every other play to perform to their optimum. Then they’ll be close to properly dethroning the champions, instead of vexing them like they did the last day out.
As for Dr Crokes they were down - momentarily - on the back of that Round 2A loss but, critically, they weren’t out, and putting up a combined total of 4-48 in their two wins since simply shows that not only have they not gone away, y’know, but they won’t be handing over the Bishop Moynihan without a serious fight.
It says something that they accounted for An Ghaeltacht and then Legion with such devastating ruthlessness with Colm Cooper playing only a handful of minutes against Legion.
Illness kept Cooper out of the team for Round 3 and the forward unit has played so well since that it’s doubtful Cooper will regain his place for this semi-final. Certainly his direct replacement, Tony Brosnan, is unstoppable and undroppable right now, and in just those two appearance he has gone out of sight at the top of the Dr Crokes scoring chart.
Beside him David Shaw is playing super football, while old dogs Kieran O’Leary and Brian Looney still have plenty of tricks up their
The problem for O’Rahillys is how to contain such a lethal attacking unit now that it has clicked with such efficiency.
There is enough scoring potential in that Crokes attack that the defence can probably afford to leak a few soft scores, but even that earlier issue seems to have been addressed.
Certainly the presence of Gavin White at centre back - in place of Alan O’Sullivan - gives the champions a better fulcrum at the back, and if Mike Moloney can get to grips with Tommy Walsh with any degree of success it’s hard to see just how O’Rahillys can outscore the Killarney men.
As Quirke rightly says, it’s better his team arrive at this game knowing they can beat Dr Crokes, but the converse of that is that the champions shouldn’t be ambushed quite so easily a second time.
If there was a right time for the champions to wobble it was in the second round when there was a safety net, and the fear from O’Rahillys point of view is that they had the big whopper on the hook but he managed to break free and won’t be caught as easily again.
Verdict: Dr Crokes