THE Crokes are back. The Crokes never went away. They were simply awesome on Sunday in Lewis Road.
Laune Rangers but mere spectators to the most impressive display of attacking football produced by a club side in the Kingdom in God knows how long. That's the big health warning attached to the Crokes' display isn't it? That Laune Rangers were merely spectators.
Sure conditions were against them in that first half, when Crokes captain Kieran O'leary won the toss and opted to play with the wind and his and his team mates' backs, but the lack of bite and fight and the amount of space awarded to Colm Cooper, Jamie Doolan et al was a recipe for only one thing – an absolute blitzing and that's precisely what happened to Laune Rangers.
By the half-time whistle it was Dr Crokes 2-15 Laune Rangers 0-3. No way back? No doubt, but it didn't take until the half-time whistle for that to become apparent. After ten minutes the Crokes were 1-5 to 0-0 ahead (Colm Cooper converted a fourth minute penalty). Peter Crowley battled hard and got the upper hand on his inter-county team mate Johnny Buckley, but even so the Rangers weren't able to make any headway up front.
No Dr Crokes' seriously impressive half-back line of Fionn Fitzgerald (a real gem of a player), Eoin Brosnan and Shane Myers (such a loss to their bid to win the All Ireland club this year) sniffed out any little bit of danger that came their way, nipped in front of their shellshocked opponents and took the ball up the field to the irrestible Crokes forward unit.
Every single one of them played a eight, nine or ten out of ten game. They acted in sync. They were totally in the zone. Even accounting for the fact the wind was at their backs the fact they recorded just one wide in the half – converting seventeen of eighteen scoring opportunites – tells its own tale.
Cooper, Jamie Doolan, Daithí Casey, Eoin Brosnan, Chris Brady and Brian Looney all scored from play in the first half. Laune Rangers didn't manage one in the first half. Three Mike Frank Russell frees is all they had to their name. The second half, while better, wasn't nearly as good as it needed to be.
Not to win the game. That was most definitely out of the question at that stage. No they needed to put up a decent performance and show that the wind had more to do the Crokes' blitzing of them than their own poor performance. What they delivered was okay. Could have been better. Could have been worse. They outscored the Crokes ten points to three. They scored six of those from play.
They were the better team in the second half. How much of that you put down to the conditions, how much of it you put down to the fact the Crokes knew deep down that they had this one sown up well before half-time and how much of it you put down to an improved performance by Rangers in the second half is entirely up to you. It was a little from column A, B and C if you ask this observer.
A poor performance by Rangers. An awesome one by Crokes. Nevertheless it's a day that won't live long in the memory. Not unless you're a Laune Rangers player and even then you'd probably prefer not to.