With four second half goals, the Killarney men gave a super account of themselves in their first game in this year’s County Hurling Championship
GARVEY’S COUNTY SHC GROUP 2 ROUND 2
Dr Crokes 4-9
Even though they never really looked like winning, the night belonged to Dr Crokes.
The Killarney men never gave in, never surrendered, battled to the very last with a Tom Doyle goal with the last stroke of the game leaving just five points in it.
For Abbeydorney, despite ensuring their passage to the quarter-finals at the very least, it was a disappointing sort of a performance by the finish. Instead of pushing on, they allowed the Crokes back into it.
You can be absolutely certain that their manager, Bruff man John Mulqueen, won’t be at all satisfied by the concession of four goals, all of them in the second half.
Of course, we need to give due credit to the Crokes for bagging them and to man-of-the-match Mark Heffernan for firing home two raspers from placed balls. Nevertheless it didn’t feel like a championship winning level performance from O’Dorney.
To be fair, they went into this game without their talisman from the first round, Michael O’Leary, who was ruled out before the throw-in. Something that, no doubt, would have been given a certain amount of encouragement to the Crokes.
The man who replaced him Keith O’Connor, however, very much took over where the big man left off and proved fairly unerring with the placed ball. Indeed, he hit eight first half points, six frees and a ‘65.
More than that, though, O’Connor was able to fill the vacuum left by O’Leary in general play. Overall O’Dorney looked that much sharper and slicker. No real surprise there considering that they had a first round run-out against the champions, Kilmoyley, the weekend before.
On the half-back line James O’Connor looked a fairly totemic presence for the North Kerry men, while alongside him Jack Sheehan thundered into the game, winning ball and bursting forward with intent.
The Crokes did plenty right too and, with early scores from Kerry panellist Mark Heffernan and captain Declan Hickey, took an early lead, two points to one. They just lacked that consistent threat up front.
Michael Lenihan dropping back from his nominal corner-forward’s role got involved in a nice tussle with the aforementioned Abbeydorney captain. Bit by bit, though, O’Dorney began to get to grips with what the Crokes were bringing to the table.
With seventeen minutes on the clock it was out to a double score game following another O’Connor free for O’Dorney, 0-6 to 0-3. Five minutes later O’Dorney struck for the theirs and the game’s first goal.
A Keith O’Connor effort dropping short. David Egan snapping it up and having an initial effort saved by Conor Bohan before it eventually came back his way to kick home, after another Ronan Donovan effort.
With the scoreline 1-9 to 0-4, an eight point margin, at the break, it didn’t look hugely encouraging for the Crokes in the second half, despite having the breeze in their favour for the second half.
John Lenihan’s charges showed no such reservations, driving into the game from the start of the second half with a goal just three minutes in – Mike Milner picking out Tom Doyle for the first of two goals.
With Heffernan pointing a free just after it felt like Crokes were just gathering a head of steam and that’s when Keith O’Connor struck for O’Dorney’s second goal, a shot through a thicket of bodies, which caught out Bohan in the Crokes net. Double scores, 2-10 to 1-5.
Maybe that was part of the problem for O’Dorney, a certain amount of complacency was always likely to creep in. Especially after their third goal, another long-distance effort that caught out Bohan, this time from Jack Hannon.
Crokes just wouldn’t die, however. Not with Heffernan driving his men on with intent, making surging runs from deep, and sticking pretty much everything that came his way over, or under, the bar.
His two goals on 45 and 54 minutes seemed to catch Abbeydorney cold. After his second there was just six in it, 3-13 to 3-7. Game on, right? Yes and no. It took O’Dorney all of sixty seconds to strike for their fourth, David Egan with his second of the evening.
That coupled with the dismissal of Bohan – for something he said to the referee we understand – seemed to be that. It would be for most teams, just not for this Crokes side. They battled to the last, to the last puck of the game, to Doyle’s second goal.
It was a performance which more than justified their inclusion in the championship. Undoubtedly they’ll find Kilmoyley a tough nut again to crack next weekend. Still after this, will anybody take them lightly?
Certainly Kilmoyley boss John Meyler, sitting in the stand on the John Joe Sheehy Road will have plenty to chew upon this week. It might not have been a classic and there might not have been many there to see it, but the Crokes more than played their part.
ABBEYDORNEY: Nigel Roche, Mikey Clifford, Niall O’Mahoney, Kieran Dineen, Jedd Maunsell, James O’Connor, Jack Sheehan, Stevie O’Sullivan, Keith O’Connor (1-10, 8f, 1 ‘65), Brendan O’Leary (0-1), Tomás Ó hÁiniféin, Daniel O’Leary, Jack Hannon (1-1), Ronan Donovan, David Egan (2-2) Subs: Jack Parker for T Ó hÁiniféin, 43, Stephen Egan for B O’Leary, 50, PJ Keane for R Donovan, 58
DR CROKES: Conor Bohan, Cathal White, Stephen Foley, Gary O’Connor, Mark O’Connor, James Murphy, Mike Milner, Vincent Doyle, Jack Lenihan, Patrick Crehan, Tom Doyle (2-0), Declan Hickey (0-1), Mark Heffernan (2-8, 2-6f), Kevin Landers, Michael Lenihan Subs: Aaron Murphy for S Foley, 23, Shane Lyne for K Landers, half-time, Anthony Keogh for M Milner, 48
REFEREE: Donncha O’Callaghan (Limerick)