Acorn Life Co U21 Championship Final -Wednesday night

acornlife.jpgThe Acorn Life County U21 Final Dr. Crokes V St. Kierans takes place in Austin Stacks Park on Wednesday next the 10th August at 7pm.
Murt Murphy previews the game for kerrygaa.ie

Are the Saints just what the Doctor ordered as epic final clash is predicted? 
There is little doubt, but that the County U-21 Football Championship has really caught fire, since Acorn Life took over sponsorship a few seasons back, and it is now one of the most important competitions outside the SFC, and rightly so.

The U-21 Championship has had its detractors down the years, but it clear that it is vital in the progression of young players, many of whom are lost between the ages of eighteen and twenty two.

So the U-21 Championship has filled an important vacuum and the profile that the competition now holds, due in no small way to the Acorn Life sponsorship, has ensured that some of best young footballers, are gaining invaluable experience as they make the transition from minor to the senior ranks.

This Wednesday nights final features a club side Dr Crokes and a combination that is St Kieran's and you would have got a decent price about these two fine sides reaching the final a couple of months back!

Both Dr Crokes and St Kieran's have proved that when it comes to the art of escapology, then they have few peers as both have shown themselves to be Lazarus like on their way they got to this final. Dr Crokes have come from behind more than once - they are known as a club who simply refuse to accept defeat if there is time left for a rescue act.

webdr.-crokes-u21.jpgFor example in the semi final they started in whirlwind fashion, thanks to a Daithi Casey goal from the penalty spot and were 1-4 to 0-0 in front inside the opening twenty minutes, against Kilcummin/Rathmore, yet they trailed by a point with five minutes left.

Again Daithi Casey levelled and it was minor star Bryan O'Shea who fired over two late points that saw a young Crokes side beat the combination 1-12 to 1-10 against the odds. So Dr Crokes are nothing if not resilient and like all Crokes team - never throw in the towel.

However they will be meeting probably the greatest escape act since Houdini escaped from a locked, water filled milk churn, because St Kieran's came back from the dead, trailing 1-13 to 1-6 at one stage of the second half, to beat fancied South Kerry by a point ( 1-14 to 1-13 ) in Lazarus like fashion in the semi final.

South Kerry got caught in a St Kieran's tsunami, as the boys from the South were apparently strolling to victory only to see their lead swept away by the rising tide.

It was 0-8 to 0-2 after a little more than twenty minutes as Daniel Daly and the O'Dwyer's Barry and Stephen plundered score after score. After points from Donal McCarthy and Stephen Bartlett, St Kieran's were granted a life line just before half time when big Mike McCarthy buried the ball in the South Kerry net.
However with Daly, Ciaran Keating and Barry O'Dwyer flying, it took all in James Walsh's armoury to keep St Kieran's in the game.
Then when Barry O'Dwyer blasted the ball past Shane O'Leary, it was South Kerry (1-13 to 1-6) who appeared to be strolling to victory. But St Kieran's refused to accept defeat and remembering how they came from behind against some of the same opponents two years ago in the Minor Championship; they got up off the canvas and launched a might series of blows to the South Kerry body!

James Walsh drove St Kieran's forward and points flowed as Walsh reduced the deficit to a point and then Maurice Hickey levelled. South Kerry were immobilized and we had the fairytale ending, because the player who kicked the winning point was Kerry minor Thomas Hickey who had just come on after a three month injury layoff and his effort in the dying embers of this was Donegal like - but to come from eights points down in the second half - amazing!

Space doesn't not allow a detailed analysis; suffice to say that this will be a game that will see some fine footballers on view.


For Dr Crokes Cillian Fitzgerald, Kieran Ward, Brendan Falvey, Bryan O'Shea, Daithi Casey, David O'Leary and Gavin O'Shea are among the principals but they are a very young side with a fair sprinkling of minors. They play the Crokes way -so you know what to expect and the corner back could be kicking a point just as easy as the number 15.

st kierans v south kerry.jpgSt Kieran's are a bigger side and names like James Walsh, Mossie Shanahan, Maurice Hickey, Eoin O'Siochru, Mike McCarthy ( Mick Galway's nephew) and Thomas Hickey, all are players who know what is required on the big night and will not fear the pace and team work of the club side.

So it could well be a classic and it's almost too close to call, but a hesitant vote goes to Dr Crokes!


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