Crokes send warning with 'complete performance'
Dr Crokes 5-20 St Finbarr's 1-11
Pat O'Shea summed up the ravenous attitude of his Dr Crokes side with the colourful body language of the former Kerry boss still demanding perfection even when Cork champions St Finbarr's were well put to bed.
O'Shea nearly got it too with a scintillating team performance highlighting everything good about the game as Crokes banished any lingering demons from last year's surprise Munster final defeat to Nemo Rangers in extraordinary fashion.
Amazingly, their tally of 5-20 all came from play with 11 different scorers lighting it up - remarkably kicking just three wides - and all that after a cagey opening which saw the 'Barrs give as good as they got.
The potential for a traditionally feisty Cork-versus-Kerry clash was evident in the opening minutes with a vocal Rebel following among the 1,577 in Killarney, but it soon took on a similar pattern to most clashes between the counties in recent years.
There were no sweepers in sight and Crokes took full advantage to respond to Steven Sherlock's opening point with eight in succession as Tony Brosnan, David Shaw and Brian Looney went to town in attack.
Crokes were quickly dominant in every position but Eoin McGreevey's 21st-minute goal - a speculative effort for a point which looped over Shane Murphy - gave the 'Barrs a lifeline, 0-8 to 1-2, despite losing former Cork star Michael Shields to injury.
The attacking flair at the other end was too hot to handle and the many deluges which fell throughout the hour didn't affect the Crokes style of play in the slightest as they kick-passed their way around the 'Barrs.
When former Kerry captain Johnny Buckley ghosted forward to collect near the sideline, the easy option was to tap it over but instead he sold two dummies before blasting to the net as Crokes went straight for the throat.
Daithí Casey did likewise when taking a defence-splitting pass from playmaker Kieran O'Leary on the stroke of half-time and burying to the net as the after-burners were put on before the break, 2-11 to 1-3.
Strangely, the 'Barrs didn't try to stem the bleeding and continued to play the 2017 All-Ireland club champions straight up when crying out for some defensive cover and they got their comeuppance.
Their hapless defenders were staring down the barrel of a gun every time the ball came in and they were 19 points behind by the three-quarter mark after further goals from Shaw and Micheál Burns, 4-16 to 1-6.
They were even afforded the luxury of calling Colm 'Gooch' Cooper into action for a 20-minute cameo and his first action was to kick one of three points, while a fifth goal from Jordan Kiely, another substitute, further highlighted the riches at their disposal as they kept the foot on the throttle right to the end despite an improved second-half effort from the 'Barrs.
It was a "complete performance" in the words of Crokes selector Edmund O'Sullivan, who outlined how Kerry legend Cooper is setting the template for success which his team-mates are following with great effect.
"I'd be lying if I said Colm is happy coming on, of course not. The same with Jordan Kiely, Michael Potts and all these fellas. The reason Colm is not starting is because Colm was sick against An Ghaeltacht and Tony Brosnan came in for him and kicked 1-14, so that's the way it is," O'Sullivan said.
"If you look at Colm, he's one of the best players that ever played the game and his attitude in training is spot on.
"He's not sulking, he's not doing anything like that, he's leading by example the whole time so if he's doing it the rest of them have to fall into place."
While the forwards will get the plaudits for their scoring yield, O'Sullivan felt the defence, led by skipper John Payne, Fionn Fitzgerald and Gavin White, excelled having received a "wake-up call" in their earlier championship defeat to Kerins O'Rahillys.
Keeping their undefeated Munster record when playing at their club grounds on Lewis Road intact, Crokes also sent out a warning shot to all challengers that their eyes are fixed on another All-Ireland crown.
Surprise package St Joseph's Miltown Malbay stand in their way for provincial honours but on the basis of yesterday's display, it could be a long day for the Clare champions in a fortnight's time.
St Finbarr's manager Ray Keane - a Kerry native and brother of new Kingdom senior boss Peter - refused to forget what they have achieved this year despite their poor showing.
"You can go away and think about this and drive yourself demented. If you do that, you'll just forget about where we have come from and what we have done. We are after having a great year, simple as that. That is our third game losing all year," Keane said.
SCORERS - Dr Crokes: D Shaw 1-3; J Kiely, D Casey, M Burns and J Buckley 1-1 each; B Looney 0-4; T Brosnan and C Cooper 0-3 each; G O'Shea, K O'Leary and G White 0-1 each. St. Finbarr's: S Sherlock 0-6 (3 '45, 2f); E McGreevey 1-0; R O'Mahony 0-2; C Dennehy, I Maguire, D O'Brien 0-1 each.
DR CROKES - S Murphy; J Payne, M Moloney, F Fitzgerald; D O'Leary, G White, S Doolan; J Buckley, D Casey; M Burns, G O'Shea, B Looney; D Shaw, K O'Leary, T Brosnan. Subs: A O'Sullivan for Moloney (39), C Cooper for Brosnan (42), J Kiely for Shaw (44), M Potts for Doolan (49), P Clarke for Buckley (51), J Lyne for Burns (53).
ST FINBARR'S - J Kerins; G O'Connor, R O'Dwyer, D Quinn; C Lyons, C Scully, S Dennehy; I Maguire, E Comyns; D O'Brien, M Shields, E Dennehy; E McGreevey, C Keane, S Sherlock. Subs: C Barrett for Shields inj (13), J Burns for O'Dwyer inj (15), R O'Mahony for Keane (half-time), A O'Connor for McGreevey inj (34), A McCarthy for O'Connor (48), A Lyne for O'Brien (56).
REF - D O'Mahoney (Tipperary).