Crokes goalkeeper Murphy continues to make strong case
Goalkeeper Shane Murphy made Kerry football sit up and take notice of his talents in last year's county final for Dr Crokes.
Twelve months on, it's almost impossible to avoid the conclusion that he's the most obvious No 1 choice with an extensive period of transformation in the county ahead on the back of Eamonn Fitzmaurice's appointment for a further two years.
Brendan Kealy has left the squad and is now a member of the Offaly backroom where Stephen Wallace is manager, while current incumbent Brian Kelly has had his kick-out difficulties.
Murphy's kick-out service has, in contrast, won much praise as Crokes have risen to the top of the county's senior roll of honour where they joined Laune Rangers and Austin Stacks on 12 titles.
And on Sunday it was again in evidence as he delivered so many with radar precision despite the champions' troubles against South Kerry's Brendan O'Sullivan/Bryan Sheehan midfield axis.
Twice in the second half he put balls on a plate for his wing-backs to run on to. On top of that there was his brilliant early save from Brendan O'Sullivan, while he also blocked from Matthew O'Sullivan to underline his shot-stopping pedigree.
Gavin White, named man of the match and another strong candidate for inclusion in Fitzmaurice's three-year blueprint, believes his goalkeeping colleague can become the complete package.
"Shane has everything under his belt. He has short kick-outs, long range, medium range and not only that, he can come up and kick a few (frees) as well. We've massive respect for Shane. There's nothing that fazes him. There are a lot of things (he has) other 'keepers can't do. The way he plays, the way he kicks the ball out, he sets up a lot of things for us and he can send massive kick-outs over the halfway line which sets up an awful lot of scores."
Meanwhile, Dr Crokes captain Daithi Casey feels a weight has been lifted off their shoulders with their successful defence of the Bishop Moynihan Cup.
"The sweetest thing is we went back-to-back because people questioned whether we would do that, whether we had the hunger to go back for it again," said Casey. "That's the biggest achievement for this group of players, that when the questions were put to us we stepped up to the plate and did it again."
Equalling Stacks and Laune Rangers on the roll of honour is something, he feels, they can look back on in time.
"It wasn't something we were thinking about coming into the game, it was just about winning. It's fantastic for the club that we draw level with Stacks and Laune Rangers, something we will look back on when we have retired."
Crokes started without Colm Cooper who picked up a minor hamstring injury in the semi-final win over West Kerry but he is expected to recover for this weekend's Munster quarter-final against Clonmel Commercials.