Dr Crokes finally end Killarney hoodoo and win back to back titles

garveylogo_web.jpgGarveys SuperValue County Kerry Senior Football Championship Final
Dr Crokes 2-8 Mid Kerry 0-9 
By Murt Murphy for kerrygaa.ie 
"Come all without, come all within you'll not see nothing like the Mighty Quinn Come all without, come all within you'll not win anything without the Mighty Quinn!  Apologies to the great Bob Dylan for the use of poetic licence, but Dr Crokes led by the Mighty Luke Quinn and complemented by ace predator Colm Cooper, finally won a SFC final in their native Killarney and became the first club side since Laune Rangers in ‘95/96, to complete back to back championship wins.

Despite the atrocious weather conditions at the Fitzgerald Stadium, it failed to dampen the enthusiastic Crokes supporters, who cheered on their team as captain and man of the match Luke Quinn, accepted the Bishop Moynihan Cup from Co Board Chairman Jerome Conway at the end of this fascinating contest.

Credit Mid Kerry for a big second half effort, but they will be the first to admit that they failed to perform in the opening half, and when you only score one point and that from a defender, then it is almost impossible to come back and win.
However, they were just about to ask serious questions of Dr Crokes as they closed the gap to just two points with barely six minutes of the second half gone, but then a calamitous error at the back saw Daithi Casey score Crokes second goal, and that was akin to driving a stake through Mid Kerry hearts, because Crokes were soon seven clear and Crokes don't do melt down's in big games anymore (except for that Rathmore aberration)!

Maybe the Crokes have been winning ugly this year but they have been winning and that's what matters at the end of the day. Much has been written and rightly so by their vaunted attack that contains at least four potential match winners on any given day but its very much Trick or Treat to know which one of the four will carve you open.

Kieran O'Leary has been doing it all year - Daithi Casey does in Cork and in Kerry, Brian Looney is always chipping away, but was it the dormant "Gooch" who would explode from his autumnal tree, like the red squirrel and start collecting medals ( not nuts) for the Winter!
Sure enough it was always going to be the case that Kerry captain Colm Cooper, would leave an indelible mark in this years Garveys Supervalue SFC after displaying indifferent form in recent outing( due to a troublesome ankle) , it took the Gooch a mere twenty seconds, to leave his imprint on this county final.

Crokes won the throw in and when Johnny Buckley gained possession, he found Kieran O'Leary in the left corner. O'Leary took on his marker and as he about to pull the trigger, the ball broke to the inrushing Cooper and he stroked ball home from six yards.
This was a body blow that Mid Kerry, took the best part of twenty minutes to recover from, as Crokes controlled matters in typical fashion with the attack moving with menace, and only some sloppy finishing saved Mid Kerry, who had started with Donnchadh Walsh at midfield, but were sluggish in the extreme on a heavy surface and in driving rain.

Crokes boss Harry O'Neill was delighted with the win, which was the clubs first back to back success for almost one hundred years, while it was the clubs first ever county championship win in their native Killarney. "We got off to a great start and I thought we were in control of the first-half. Yet they turned the game around after half-time and it was back in the melting point. But we were all told that we were going to concede a goal from a high ball but we put one in on top of them and got one. I felt we controlled it after that and once we didn't concede a goal, we'd be okay.
Crokes can thank their keeper Alan Kelly for not conceding a goal as Donal Kelliher sent in a high ball that Colm Kerins grabbed before passing to Gavan O'Grady, who had slipped inside the Crokes cover and with goal written all over it, Kelly made a stunning save from point blank range to turn the ball behind for a '45.

Mid Kerry seemed to be gambling on the long ball to Kerins and the inside line which was perceived in the build up to be Crokes Achilles heel. However Luke Quinn held Colm Kerins in a vice like grip and Kerins only managed one point all afternoon and that proved crucial. Quinn, who keeps filling gaps for the Crokes was magnificent throughout and got great back up from John Payne who shackled Jerome Flynn and David O'Leary who never gave Gavan O'Grady an inch.

In fact looking at the stats, the Mid Kerry full-forward line scored only one point from play while Crokes inside line scored 1-3 and the difference between those returns equals winning margin!

The performance of Luke Quinn, which may have gone unnoticed by the fans that only see attackers as candidates for Man of the match awards, was thought crucial and he just got the nod ahead of John Payne and Fionn Fitzgerald.

It was all Crokes early on and points from Brian Looney, Daithi Casey and Cooper again saw Crokes lead 1-3 to 0-0 after twenty minutes and if Cooper had not drilled a great goal chance wide in the 11th minute, it might well have been game over.

Mid Kerry who dropped the experienced Gary Sayers (probably an error in hindsight), just could not buy a score with three wides as Darran O'Sullivan and Donnchadh Walsh tried in vain to get the divisional side going.
Kerry star O'Sullivan admitted afterwards ""We didn't play at all in the first half. You can credit Crokes with that or maybe we were just enjoying the day too much. We could go out there now and kick all around us. Crokes out played us, to be honest. We just didn't have it."

Defender Pa Kilkenny scored Mid Kerry's solitary first half point as their wide count increased to five and it was Cooper with a beauty from play, that saw Crokes lead 1-4 to 0-1 at the interval.

Mid Kerry resumed a fired up side, with Fergal Griffin's move to midfield making a difference and four points on the trot from Gavin O'Grady ( 2), Darran O'Sullivan and Sean O'Sullivan, within the opening six minutes, reduced the deficit to just two points and Crokes appeared rattled .
However the game was decided in the 40th minute when Colm Cooper sent in a high ball that keeper Mike Moriarty left his line for but when he failed to make contact, Daithi Casey (already a Cork County Championship winner with UCC) shot to the empty net.
Despite a Bernard Murphy point for Mid Kerry, three unanswered Crokes points from Cooper, Kieran O'Leary and Johnny Buckley saw the champions move 2-7 to 0-6 clear and there was no way back for Mid Kerry.
Dr Crokes now play Waterford champions, Ballinacourty on Sunday next in the Munster Club.

Dr Crokes
C Cooper 1-3 (0-1 free), D Casey 1-1 (0-1 free), A Donovan, J Buckley, B Looney and K O'Leary 0-1 each

Mid Kerry
G O'Grady 0-2 frees, G Sayers 0-2, S O'Sullivan 0-1 free, P Kilkenny, B Murphy, Darran O'Sullivan and C Kerins 0-1 each


Dr Crokes
A Kelly, J Payne, L Quinn, D O'Leary, F Fitzgerald, E Brosnan, S Myers, A O'Donovan, J Buckley, A Kennelly, D Casey, B Looney, C Cooper, K O'Leary, J Doolan
Subs: C Brady for J Doolan, B McMahon for A Kennelly

Mid Kerry
M Moriarty ( Beaufort), A Cahillane ( Keel), F Griffin ( Glenbeigh/Glencar), G Hartnett ( Beaufort), P Kilkenny ( Glenbeigh/Glencar), M Mangan (Milltown/Castlemaine) B Murphy ( Glenbeigh/Glencar), D Walsh ( Cromane), M Burke ( Milltown/Castlemaine), D Kelliher (Milltown/Castlemaine), S O'Sullivan ( Cromane), D O'Sullivan ( Glenbeigh/Glencar), G O'Grady ( Glenbeigh/Glencar), C Kerins ( Milltown/Castlemaine), J Flynn ( Milltown/Castlemaine):

G Sayers (Keel) for S O'Sullivan, C McGillycuddy (Glenbeigh/Glencar) for C Kerins, C Moriarty (Milltown/Castlemaine) for J Flynn

Referee: Paul Hayes (Kerins O'Rahillys)