THE defending and four-in-a-row seeking champions started off with aplomb in Fitzgerald Stadium last Saturday by heaping more misery on their fellow Killarney side with a 17-point hammering that was never in doubt from the moment Jamie Doolan found the back of the net in the seventh minute.
Legion had been on the end of a 13-point trouncing in the County League three weeks earlier but were hoping to redeem themselves somewhat in advance. However, despite James O'Donoghue putting over a free for the first point of the game, that was to be one of the few highlights on an otherwise forgettable night for the Direen side.
Dr Crokes' dominance began with a run of 1-6 without reply in the opening quarter, Brian Looney and Daithi Casey sending Doolan through for his seventh minute goal, the finish leaving Brian Kelly with no chance in the Legion goal. Ambrose O'Donovan should have scored a second soon after but forced his effort wide of the post before making up with a point in the 13th minute.
Jonathon Lyne eased the pressure on his side somewhat with their second point but a second free from O'Donoghue and a David O'Sullivan effort were all Legion could muster in the opening half. Lyne did get a sniff of a goal chance before half-time but Fionn Fitzgerald was vigilant in shielding his Kerry team-mate away from a shot on target. Crokes' lead at half-time was 1-9 to 0-4.
They scored the exact same in the second-half not giving Legion any time to get their bearings with the first four points of the second period. Shane Myers came up from defence to slot over a point for Crokes in a sign of their dominance and Legion themselves needed a defender to raise a gallop on the scoreboard. James O'Donoghue had a shot on goal come off Brian Looney before Derek Pyne collected the rebound to slot over for only their sixth point of the game. Fitzgerald was shrewd again this time in stopping Tom Moriarty from getting some consolation for Legion before Eoin Brosnan also collected another dangerous ball in the Crokes goalmouth.
Normal service was resumed at the other end soon after, Kieran O'Leary finishing off a great team move involving Colm Cooper, Brosnan, Daithi Casey and substitute Keith O'Leary to fist the ball home for their second goal with three minutes left. It would have been three had Brian Kelly not stopped Cooper adding a third but Jamie Doolan and O'Leary between them they were the real tormentors of the Legion on the night finishing with 1-4 and 1-5 respectively.
Dr Crokes make it into the third round without breaking too much of a sweat, complacency might well be their only obstacle in preventing them achieving four-in-a-row on this evidence. Legion have much soul searching to do ahead of Mid Kerry this weekend.
Dr Crokes: David Maloney, John Payne, Shane Myers (0-1), Kieran Ward, Shane Doolan, Eoin Brosnan, Fionn Fitzgerald, Ambrose O'Donovan (0-1), Johnny Buckley, Alan O'Sullivan (0-2), Daithi Casey, Brian Looney, Kieran O'Leary (1-5), Colm Cooper (0-5, 3f), Jamie Doolan (1-4). Subs: David O'Leary for Myers, Shane O'Neill for J Doolan, Keith O'Leary for Looney, Jason Lyne for Payne.
Legion: Brian Kelly, Derek Pyne (0-1), Gene McCarthy, Padraig O'Connor, Sean McCarthy, Danny Sheehan, Jonathon Lyne (0-1), Padraig Lucey, Billy Maguire (0-1), Kevin Breen, James O'Donoghue (0-2f), Mike O'Sullivan, David O'Sullivan (0-2), Thomas Moriarty, Conor Keane. Subs: Cathal Sheehan for Gene McCarthy, Kieran Slattery for Breen, Shaun Keane for Maguire, David Glesson for Moriarty.
Referee: Paul Hayes (Kerins O'Rahillys)
Considering the amount of players they have at their disposal, the competition for places on the Crokes team is probably as is intense as it is for Kerry and Jamie Doolan's performance on Saturday night was indicative of a player anxious to prove his worth.
You wondered how long it would take Crokes to land the first big blow in the contest and how Legion would react to it. When Jamie Doolan found the back of the net after only seven minutes it set the tone for what would be a very one-sided affair.