Mid Kerry no test for champions
County SFC Round 1: Dr Crokes 2-14 Mid Kerry 0-9
It didn't develop into anything like the contest one might have expected in advance. Maybe that was always going to be hard when Mid Kerry had to line up without either Peter Crowley or Darran O'Sullivan but Dr Crokes did what was expected of them in getting off to a winning start in the defence of the Bishop Moynihan Cup.
Now free of inter-county duty, Colm Cooper didn't take long to make an impression on the game as an exquisite read of a Kieran O'Leary pass led to the game's first goal after only six minutes. Liam Carey had scored the first point of the game for the district side but when Nathan Breen had to go off injured after the opening goal it was an ominous sign for Mid Kerry.
They might have had a case for a free after what seemed to be a foul on John Tyther but Crokes looked far superior with a '45' from goalkeeper Shane Murphy giving them a 1-6 to 0-3 lead after 17 minutes. Carey was the standout player for the district outfit in the game as the gap was reduced to four points but with a missed goal scoring opportunity which Gavan O'Grady drove wide on his inside was indicative of the difference in accuracy between the sides. A David O'Leary effort and Cooper's fourth point saw the reigning All-Ireland Senior Club Champions lead by 1-8 to 0-5 at half-time. Cooper didn't score in the second period but what he did do was return the favour to O'Leary for the game's opening goal in passing the ball to him three minutes after the restart for a 2-8 to 0-6 advantage.
It felt like the cavalry were coming then for the Killarney side with Gavin White and Alan O'Sullivan registering scores as substitutes Chris Brady and Paul Clarke were others to get in on the act before the end. Crokes managed to introduce the full complement of substitutes before the end, David Naughton and Jason Lyne amongst the other new faces to get a taste of County Championship action as Mike Breen scored a rare Mid Kerry point in the 48th minute. In all there were 10 different scorers for the victors on the day as Gavin White blocked another opportunity at goal for O'Grady in the last 10 minutes. Jordan Kiely and Daithi Casey both finished with two points each as Johnny Buckley's absence was hardly felt Crokes in a comfortable 11 point win.
They have home advantage for their next match on Saturday evening against St Brendans in the Winners Round when they know a win will put any thoughts of the Bishop Moynihan Cup on hold until after Kerry's All-Ireland campaign is over. The following day Mid Kerry will travel to Lewis Road themselves to take on East Kerry in a match that will see the loser exit for the year. Even accounting for the fact the first day out can usually be the most difficult for divisional sides this was a very disappointing display for Mid Kerry as their year now hangs on an encounter with a neighbouring district.
Certainly something special is needed by them if they are to remain a part of the County Championship in 2017 and live up to some of the expectations about them.
Dr Crokes: Shane Murphy (0-1 '45'), John Payne, Michael Moloney, Gavin White (0-1), David O'Leary (0-1), Alan O'Sullivan (0-1), Fionn Fitzgerald, Ambrose O'Donovan, Daithi Casey (0-2, 1f), Shane Doolan, Gavin O'Shea, Brian Looney, Colm Cooper (1-4, 0-3f), Jordan Kiely (0-2), Kieran O'Leary (1-0). Subs: David Naughton for Fitzgerald, Chris Brady (0-1) for O'Shea, PJ Lawlor for Doolan, Paul Clarke (0-1) for Looney, Mike Milner for White, Jason Lyne for Payne.
Mid Kerry: Mike Moriarty (Beaufort), David Roche (Milltown/Castlemaine), Nathan Breen (Beaufort), Mike Breen 0-1 (do), Ger Hartnett (do), Gavin Evans (Keel), Pa Kilkenny (Glenbeigh/Glencar), Conor Clarke (Laune Rangers), Ronan Murphy (Beaufort), Gary Sayers (Keel), Liam Carey 0-4 (Beaufort), Cathal Moriarty (Milltown/Castlemaine), Gavan O'Grady 0-3, 2f (Glenbeigh/Glencar), Donnchadh Walsh 0-1 (Cromane), John Tyther (Laune Rangers). Subs: Caoilm Teahan (Glenbeigh/Glencar) for Nathan Breen, Padraig Doona (Beaufort) for Sayers, Thomas Ladden (Keel) for Clarke, Colin McGuillicuddy (Glenbeigh/Glencar) for Murphy, Jack Brosnan (Glenbeigh/Glencar) for Mike Breen.
Referee: Jonathon Griffin (Clounmacon)
The Game in 60 seconds
The first time since 2001 that Colm Cooper will play in the County Championship without being a part of the Kerry senior team set-up, he looked every bit as hungry for the battle now in the way he was able to create and take scores for the defending champions.
It was pretty obvious from early on that Crokes were going to win this game, but the quality of the passes by Kieran O'Leary and Colm Cooper for both goals were as impressive as the finishes themselves. Something Crokes definitely have down to a fine art!
Mid Kerry's poor display was part of a general trend for the districts on the opening weekend of the County Championship where only one district, St Brendans, won a 'club v district' encounter out of the six such encounters played.