COUNTY SFC ROUND THREE
DR CROKES.....................1-15 EAST KERRY....................1-9
CHAMPIONS Dr Crokes showed why they will be the team to beat in this year's Kerry Senior Football Championship as they overcame East Kerry with ease at Fitzgerald Stadium on Sunday.
That is not to say that the Killarney town side did not have their difficulties in overcoming their divisional opponents. They did, but once they figured out East Kerry's defensive gameplan, they stretched away to a comfortable six-point win. At times the inter-play between Dr Crokes' forwards was sublime and it is the understanding between the front six that will see them hard removed from their position as county champions.
The forwards scored 1-11 of Dr Crokes' final tally, an impressive haul under difficult conditions. Brian Looney caught the eye with his performance. Looney kicked two wonderful points from play and slotted two 45s to boot. Colm Cooper, who played everywhere between his own half-back line and his corner forward position chipped in with three points, Daithi Casey scored two, while Jamie Doolan and Andrew Kenneally got one each.
In midfield, Johnny Buckley and Ambrose O'Donovan each had fine outings on Sunday. Buckley scored two points while his midfield partner kicked another. Buckley, in particular, had a superb game. His driving runs at times when Dr Crokes became ponderous with their play, paid dividends by refocusing minds. It was Buckley that set the ball rolling with only seconds on the clock. He grabbed possession from the throw-in and advanced towards goal before banging the ball over the bar for a wonderful score.
Colm Cooper cut through the heart of the East Kerry defence a minute later to double Dr Crokes' lead. East Kerry then had their best period of the game. Jack Sherwood, after a strong run and neat Jeff O'Donoghue pass, billowed the net for a fourthminute goal and three points in a row from marksman Mike O'Donoghue saw them lead by 1-3 to 02 after 11 minutes.
Dr Crokes then set about their task with resolution and in an eight-minute spell they turned a fourpoint deficit into a threepoint lead. Brian Looney, Johnny Buckley and Colm Cooper kicked points before Cooper found Kieran O'Leary lurking with intent in the East Kerry square and O'Leary made no mistake from close range. Looney then took advantage of a poor Colin Myers kickout to make the score 1-6 to 1-3 after 19 minutes.
Colm O'Shea and Mike O'Donoghue reduced the margin to the minimum before Crokes out in another devastating spell in the lead-up to half-time. Andrew Kenneally kicked a beautiful point, Ambrose O'Donovan followed suit before Daithi Casey converted a free to see Crokes leading by 1-10 to 1-5 at the break. Dr Crokes defender Fionn Fitzgerald sustained a serious injury as half-time approached. Fitzgerald, the recipient of a high challenge was stretchered form the field suffering from concussion.
As weather conditions deteriorated, so too did the standard of football in the second half. East Kerry seemed to have run out of ideas, while Dr Crokes were content to match them on the scoreboard. They added to their tally through points from Daithi Casey, Brian Looney (2), Jamie Doolan and Colm Cooper, while East Kerry added four points to theirs – Mike O'Donoghue, Jeff O'Donoghue, Mike Daly and Niall O'Mahony doing the needful. DR CROKES: David Moloney, John Payne, Michael Moloney, Fionn Fitzgerald, Shane Doolan, Luke Quinn(0-1), Shane Myers, Ambrose O'Donovan(0-1), Johnny Buckley(0-2), Andrew Kenneall y(0-1), Kieran O'Leary (capt) (10), Brian Looney(0-4, 0-2 45s), Colm Cooper (0-3, 0-2 frees), Daithi Casey (0-2 frees), Jamie Doolan (0-1). Subs: Kieran Ward for F Fitzgerald (31), Chris Brady for K O'Leary (ht), Gavin O'Shea for D Casey (51), Brendan Falvey for A Kenneally (61) EAST KERRY: Colin Myers, Danny Wrenn, Bryan Russell, Matthew Culloty, Eoin Cronin, Damien O'Sullivan, Jack Sherwood (1-0), Andrew Garnet, Jimmy O'Leary, Niall O'Mahony(01), Colm O'Shea (0-1), Alfie Giles, Derry Aherne, Michael O'Donoghue (0-4, 0-3 frees), Jeff O'Donoghue(0-2, 0-1 free) Subs: Damien Dennehy for E Cronin (20) , Shane Lynch for D Dennehy (35), Mike Daly (0-1) for C O'Shea (42), Anthony Sweeney for J O'Donoghue (54) REFEREE: Paul Hayes (Kerins O'Rahilly's)