O’RAHILLYS TAKE ON DR CROKES

Kerins O’Rahillys

The Kerryman (Tralee Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - BY PAUL BRENNAN

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

sleeves.

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

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