NEXT Sunday will be a big day for the two most consistent teams in Kerry football over the season.
The Crokes will be hoping to join other great teams in completing three County Championships in-a-row and join other great sides like the Mitchels, East Kerry and South Kerry in achieving this milestone in Kerry football and they will be favourites to achieve this. Dingle on the other hand will be contesting their first County Final in sixty-one years. Of course, the Dingle club would have in that time spent many years as part of the West Kerry set up.
They played each other earlier in the season in the County League when the Dingle lads had a comprehensive victory over the Killarney lads, but as all Kerry fans know the league and the championship are two different things and with both teams having lads involved in the Kerry set up neither team would have been at full strength. I have got the call on Dingle wrong in this championship to date, but their ability to get goals has kept them in the Championship.
They have come up with twelve in their championship so far. There is an old saying in football that goals win games and Dingle would subscribe to this saying to date. If it was one game one might say they were lucky, but they continue to get these goals. What worried me about them, on the other hand, is their low point scoring and I don't expect to see Crokes concede anything like three or four goals in the final of a County Championship.
Both teams put up impressive scorelines on Sunday last in their final games of the County Leagues – Dingle scoring two goals and twelve points against Ardfert, while Crokes put a massive total of five goals and fifteen points against St Michaels / Foilmore – so both had a competitive game before the championship. It's a great achievement for Murt Moriarty's men to reach the final and they have done so playing good open football.
In fact over the last few years Dingle have been making steady progress, but I just think this will be a step too far for them. Interestingly enough if the game was played in Killarney I feel that Dingle would have a better chance, but the byelaw is there with no Tralee club involved the final must be played in Tralee. Crokes, believe it or not, prefer Tralee to Killarney and when you realise the potential of the Dingle team to get goals you can see that the open spaces of Killarney might have suited the Dingle boys more.
The Crokes backs will be a lot tighter on their opponents than any team Dingle will have played to date in John Payne, Fionn Fitzgerald, Myers, Brosnan, and Luke Quinn – they have tried and tested defenders. They also have Shane Doolan to call on and also David O'Leary back from the States so the Crokes back line is solid enough . If they have a vulnerability it would be if they were to be attacked with early ball put in high.
Mike Moloney is a solid enough full-back, but early ball mixed up might just upset the Killarney lads. Of course, they too can render your forward line redundant and they like to attack in waves from the back and this ploy has often meant that your forward line can find itself far away from the scoring zone, but it's not as if Dingle won't know this!
The Crokes have adopted this style for years. This is why the midfield and middle third of the field will be important for the West Kerry men. Brosnan and Moriarty will have to play very well to get on top of Ambrose O'Donovan and Johnny Buckley and the Crokes have the option of moving Eoin Brosnan out there if required. Dingle have shown another quality all year – they don't give up! And when you have forwards like the Geaneys and a few more and have a team that seems to be able to get goals you might just have a chance.
For me the firepower the Crokes have up front will be too strong for the Dingle backs. Kieran O'Leary and Colm Cooper will garner most of the attention, but Daithí Casey, Brady and Looney can all hurt a team. Jamie Doolan (if playing) too will take some watching. In my view he is having his best season in a few years. Andrew Kenneally is an experienced player and Gavin O'Shea is a good option from the bench.
No matter what kind of case I make for Dingle anything other than a Crokes win would be a shock.
The Intermediate Final precedes the big game with Spa and Finuge doing battle and whether new Kerry boss Eamonn Fitzmaurice togs out in this game or not he will be hoping that, like in years of old, you would walk away from the County Final with a few players identified.
I would be of the opinion that some players on view will have to show they could be deployed in a number of positions for Kerry management and I would suggest that their minds be open to being turned into full-backs and centre-backs. Having looked at a lot of these players for a few years I believe Fitz will have to try such thinking.