If Dingle feel they’ve not achieved everything they’re capable of over the last decade, now is a good time to put that right
Would it be fair or otherwise to say Dingle have been underachievers over the recent lifetime of this particular group of senior footballers?
That might be a question more for that group itself to answer, rather than any of us looking in from the outside, but one imagines there would be a feeling within the group that they should be getting more out themselves in terms of winning things than they have.
Apart from a slew of West Kerry league and championship titles, last year’s County League Division 1 title was Dingle’s first significant piece of silverware in years.
That they retained that league title a couple of months ago speaks to a welcome degree of consistency at the top level, but in club football – as with the inter-county game – it is championships, not leagues, that matter most.
The West Kerry town did win the County Intermediate Championship in 2004 (as they did in 1988 and 1989), and while that was a fine achievement in itself, it also serves as a reminder that Dingle weren’t always a ‘senior’ club, and have had to fight their way back to the top table on a few occasions.
The club’s glory days become more and more distant with every passing year: the first of the six senior county championships the town won between 1938 and 1948 isn’t that far off celebrating its centenary, and there aren’t too many left who can recall the club’s last win, in 1948, with much clarity.
Dingle’s recent record in the county championship has been solid, but not spectacular. Over the last seven county championships the team has contested and lost one county final (2018) and one county semi-final (2016).
They have reached the quarter-finals on two other occasions (2019 and 2021), gone out in the Third Round in 2015 and 2017, and made their exit in Round 1 (in a straight knock-out format) in 2020. Their championship record over the last seven campaigns is 12 wins, 10 losses and two draws.
Two games into the 2022 championship, and Dingle are once more looking a serious team, underpinned by 13 and 14-point wins over Spa and Kerins O’Rahillys respectively.
That they have qualified for the quarter-finals without needing a positive result against pre-Championship favourites East Kerry is a win in itself; and the bonus is that they – as can East Kerry – can approach Sunday’s game in Dingle whatever way they want, vis-á-vis, going all out to win the game and top the group, or run their panel and have less intent on winning the match.
Austin Stacks, Dr Crokes, Mid Kerry and others will, of course, have much to say on the matter, but with Dingle and East Kerry to avoid each other in the quarter-finals, it isn’t that much of a stretch to say their Group 2 game this weekend could easily be a dress rehearsal for a county semi-final on October 16 or even a county final a fortnight after that.
Both teams have a few hoops to jump through before that, but on the evidence of their last two games, Dingle are undoubtedly a serious title contender.
Paul Geaney is playing superbly well at the apex of their attack, while Mikey Geaney is bringing all that dynamic energy and admirable hard graft to a role that gives him licence to rove between the two ‘45s and further afield as he sees fit.
Barry O’Sullivan has emerged as one of the best non-county player midfielders in the club game this year, and Tom O’Sullivan is… well, Tom O’Sullivan.
In Gavin Curran they have a reliable goalkeeper, Padraig Ó Conchúir and Mícheál Ó Flannúra are tough defenders, Billy O’Connor is a sound midfield partner for Barry O’Sullivan, and Ruadhán Mac Cárthaigh, George Durrant, Dylan Geaney and Matthew Flaherty are all capable forwards.
If there is a fly in the ointment as far as title winning ambitions go, it is that Conor Geaney’s season appears to be over before it began, and their overall strength in depth appears a little on the shallow side.
Sunday’s meeting with East Kerry won’t tell us near as much about either team and it might have under different circumstances, but the early glimpses so far suggest Dingle will give this championship a right rattle.
They have the players, and they are playing with confidence. Maybe all they’re missing is a bit more self-belief and a dash of good fortune.