THE general consensus of supporters leaving the Fitzgerald Stadium last Saturday night was that the county championship has suffered dramatically as a result of the allowing the intermediate winners enter the competition. Now I'm not going to be repetitive on this subject only to say that Kerry football will suffer in the long run if something is not done about the standard of the county senior championship.
It could be seen that two former power houses of the championship, South Kerry and East Kerry, are not the forces they once were as they have been weakened by allowing teams go out on their own, after they won the county intermediate title. Some of those clubs have been out on their own in thew senior championship for long enough now to see they are not making great strides in the competition, and I would go so far as to say they are wronging individual players who might make divisional teams and have a chance of winning a championship medal and improve their chances of progressing to county teams. This will have to be addressed by some brave club chairmen and the county committee in the long term interest of Kerry football.
Chairpersons will, of course, risk the wrath of certain club members but surely it should be the ambition of every club officer to see individual club players represent their club at the highest level, and playing for one's divisional board team is part of that process. Of course we will have self interest of some clubs who like to see the competition fragmented as it means the quest for victory becomes much easier for them, and who can blame them for this. But in the long term interest of Kerry football it needs addressing. Okay, that's enough said on the subject. It's there for all to see so it's now op to the people in charge.
Back to Fitzgerald Stadium on Saturday on what was a beautiful evening for football. South Kerry proved too strong for the team from the east in what was an entertaining enough game with some brilliant point kicking by both sides. It was a very open game and while both sides may improve a bit I'm not so sure we saw any thing to suggest that either will win the championship.
On the other hand the Dr Crokes display was pretty awesome against a Legion team that greatly disappointed. It has to be said that the black and amber boys were pretty up for this game and wanted to let their neighbouring team know who the kingpins in Killarney are.
This is a very professional Dr Crokes outfit and this was to be seen in the overall display. Every player is tuned in to what is expected of him and their speed of thought, on and off the ball, is something to delight at times. It is also quite noticeable that the Crokes have introduced the long kicking game to their armour and this tactic was directly responsible for their inside line scoring two goals and fourteen points of their 2-18 total.
One could see this Crokes team has benefited from the best of coaching, and with no disrespect to other teams and coaches and, indeed, clubs, what sets Dr Crokes apart from other teams in Kerry is this is a very professionally run club. It has in place a structure and a mindset that evolves from the time a juvenile joins the club, and an ethos as to how they envisage the game should be played. One would want to remember, too, that they have a very, very good senior panel right now, and but for a few positions at the back this is a serious team.
The Legion, meanwhile, will have to pick themselves up from this harsh football lesson they received. They have to have a look at what their best team is and where best to line out fellows to benefit a team that has been around for a few years and has done well at under-21 level. To say they are still a young team might be giving them too much of an excuse at this stage. The reality is that if Legion want to compete with the other town team they will have to take on the Dr Crokes ambition and put in the same effort, both at a coaching and a fitness level.
I have no doubt that Dr Crokes, as a club, have benefited from their inter-county players bringing into the club some of the things they have experienced and learned gained from the Kerry set-up. Well, Legion now have a few fellows in the Kerry set-up now and they must pass their experiences from there on to their club colleagues, and it's up to the other players to buy into a forward thinking plan. The ambition must be to emulate the professional manner that the Crokes have. That means not just training to beat them in a senior match, but training to compete with them at all levels.