Monday 14 October 2019

Crokes ready to face down mirror image in club showdown

'Dr Crokes selector Edmund O'Sullivan said analysing the Galway men is like looking at a prototype of themselves.' Stock image
'Dr Crokes selector Edmund O'Sullivan said analysing the Galway men is like looking at a prototype of themselves.' Stock image
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Beyond those directly involved, the All-Ireland club football finals haven't set many pulses racing of late.

Most would have to go back to the 2013 for the last gripping encounter, when Frankie Dolan's brilliant injury-time intervention tipped the balance in St Brigid's favour after their thrilling joust with Ballymun Kickhams.

In the years that followed there were winning margins of seven, ten and 13 points on St Patrick's Day.

Dr Crokes won by two points in 2017 against 14-man Slaughtneil but last year 'normal' service was resumed when Corofin had 15 points to spare over Nemo Rangers.

However, tomorrow's decider between the defending champions and Dr Crokes is taking on a different billing with two teams who have experience of the big day and a penchant for attack.

Dr Crokes selector Edmund O'Sullivan said analysing the Galway men is like looking at a prototype of themselves.

"In some ways it's like looking in the mirror," he said of the Galway men.

"They are very like us in the way the play football and they are super talented side. There inside line is similar to ours in that it is very potent. Ian Burke is one of the top five or six forwards at the moment.

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"They attack you from the half-back line with two attack-minded wing-backs, a bit like ourselves with Gavin White. They are a good football side with lots of experience.

"To get back to another All-Ireland in successive years, you do not see it very often at club level. So we will give them all the respect they deserve as they are a fantastic side.

"But if our boys can bring their 'A' game and if we play to our peak levels, I would fancy our chances against any team."

Crokes won when the sides met in the All-Ireland semi-final of 2017 on their way to a first All-Ireland title in 25 years but at one stage this year, an appearance in Croke Park looked fanciful as they blew a big lead against Kerins O'Rahillys.

"When we lost to Kerins O'Rahillys in the second round of SFC, throwing away a big lead, we all had to ask ourselves questions.

"We just needed to know did fellas want to drive on ... they owed the club nothing. (Or) did we want to be successful as a club and carry on?

"Everyone said they wanted to carry on and were prepared to put other aspects of their lives on hold to make it a priority to be successful. So we have rolled on since, management and players, and that was a seminal moment in our season. It was the kick in the backside we needed."

The Kerry side haven't looked back since and have swept all before them, winning the Kerry title and league as well as the East Kerry championship before sweeping to provincial glory.

In the All-Ireland semi-final they survived the early dismissal of Johnny Buckley to sweep past Mullinalaghta and give themselves a chance of reclaiming the title they coughed up when going down to Nemo Rangers in the Munster final of 2017.

"The way I read it is that even last year when we were saying it was a disaster against Nemo and it was on that particular day; but we still won a county championship in Kerry which is very hard to do," O'Sullivan said.

"So I would put the Nemo loss down to the fact that the boys just did not play on the day. We were very flat, it was a no-show really which is very unlike this group of players really.

"It was very unusual for this group of players because when they get to finals they perform. So we are hoping that we can get over the line against Corofin. But it's all on the day really."

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