Fitz injury fails to halt champions
South Kerry 0-12 Dr Crokes 1-8 Kerry SFC Final A MOMENT of sheer brilliance from young senior star Bryan Sheehan secured South Kerry's third consecutive county title at the expense of heartbroken Dr Crokes at Killarney.
The sides were level six minutes into injury-time when South Kerry were awarded a free approximately sixty yards out near the sideline and Sheehan belied his tender years by driving the ball over the crossbar from the ground.
It was a brilliant kick that his St Mary's clubmate, Maurice Fitzgerald, would have been proud of, but unfortunately, the Cahirciveen legend was in hospital at that stage after being knocked out in a freak collision with one of his own players.
Fitzgerald was involved in an accidental clash with his captain Paul O'Connor, and worried supporters saw him lay prone on the turf for over eight minutes before being stretchered from the field. He was immediately transferred to Kerry General Hospital, and thankfully, his trainer James O'Sullivan afterwards reported that his star player "was coming around and had been concussed."
After Sheehan landed his monster free, Crokes had a chance to equalise from a placed ball, but from forty yards out, Colm 'Gooch' Cooper saw his effort drift agonisingly wide. Cooper was well marshalled by the South Kerry defence throughout and only registered a single point.
The opening half was a scrappy affair that provided little entertainment for the 9,000 crowd in Fitzgerald Stadium who saw both defences on top. Scoring chances were at a premium, but Ronan Hussey foraged manfully in the South Kerry attack and it was the champions who edged into a 0-6 to 0-5 half-time lead.
James Fleming landed a free soon after the break to level the scores, but then came the 10-minute stoppage which saw Fitzgerald receiving treatment.
When play resumed, Aidan O'Sullivan pushed South Kerry into a one-point lead, but it appeared that the pendulum was about to swing Dr Crokesway in the 49th minute when Cooper set up Kieran O'Leary for a well-taken goal.
However, this strike seemed to galvanize the champs and they fought back to level with two Ronan O'Connor points before Sheehan showed his composure to earn the divisional side a third county crown in-a-row.
* GAA President Nickey Brennan and PRO Danny Lynch have led the tributes to former Kerry footballer Liam Higgins who died at the weekend. A native of Lispole, Liam was full-forward when Kerry won the All-Ireland SFC titles in 1969-70 with teams that included legends Mick O'Connell, Mick O'Dwyer and Johnny Culloty.
SCORERS - South Kerry: B Sheehan 0-4 (fs); R O'Connor 0-3, R Hussey 0-2 each; A O'Sullivan, Declan O'Sullivan and D O'Dwyer 0-1 each. Dr Crokes: K O'Leary 1-1, J Fleming 0-4 frees, B Looney, E Kavanagh and C Cooper 0-1 each
SOUTH KERRY - M Drummond; A O'Connell, K Young, W O'Sullivan; DS O'Sullivan, B Hickey, S O'Sullivan; B Sheehan, A O'Sullivan; P O'Connor, Declan O'Sullivan, D O'Dwyer; R Hussey, R O'Connor, M Fitzgerald. Subs: P Curran for Fitzgerald (inj), J Shanahan for O'Dwyer, R Keane for P O'Connor.
DR CROKES - K Cremin; K McMahon, J Cahillane, L Quinn; S Doolan, B McMahon, M Moloney; A O'Donovan, K Brosnan; B Looney, A Kennelly, J Fleming; C Cooper, E Brosnan, K O'Leary. Subs: B Moriarty for Doolan, V Cooper for Looney, E Kavanagh for Cahillane.
REF - P Sheehy