Sunday 22 September 2019

Dr Crokes success adds to Keane's headaches

Dr Crokes captain John Payne. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Dr Crokes captain John Payne. Photo by Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Dr Crokes are out of the frying pan and heading for the fire. Rather than winning the Munster title marking the end of their year, it brings their busiest run of games.

Should they keep winning, they'll likely play week on week up to Christmas, with a good chance they'll still be operating into the New Year.

This weekend they'll face Kerins O'Rahillys in the county league division one final and after that it's into East Kerry fare. Even if the weather is kind, it's likely the 2018 O'Donoghue cup will run into 2019 and leave just a few weeks to their All-Ireland semi-final clash with the Leinster champions in February.

It's a hectic schedule but one that is borne out of Crokes' sustained success. Captain John Payne wasn't complaining.

"We are going to be training away so it doesn't make a difference," he offered when it was put to him that the Killarney side now face a punishing schedule.

"Where it might annoy fellas is lads who have holidays booked, lads might have a few things booked for when you're off, but we're not off. That's life."

Selector Niall 'Botty' O'Callaghan stated afterwards that they would use those games to give their subs a run, and on the face of it that might not overly weaken things. They started the Munster final with seven All-Ireland winners from various grades on the bench in Colm Cooper, Eoin Brosnan, Alan O'Sullivan, Michael Potts, Jordan Kiely, David Naughton and Billy Courtney. Only five of them saw action in the nine-point win.

"We are hoping the transition will be easier for Crokes when the older fellas start stepping away because these fellas are chomping at the bit  to get in there, so the next few weeks will be a chance to give these fellas a game. The thing is you don't want to throw all the young fellas in together. That's not fair on them either so you have to get a bit of mix but a lot of those fellas will play." 

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Crokes' win also means that new Kerry manager Peter Keane is set to be without his Crokes contingent for the early part of the league at least. The experienced pair of Fionn Fitzgerald and Daithí Casey are not expected to be part of the set-up but the likes of goalkeeper Shane Murphy, All-Star nominee Gavin White and Micheal Burns were part of the 2018 squad while the form of Tony Brosnan suggests he can also expect a call-up.

Given the experience that has left the squad in the close season, it's an issue Keane could do without. For White, it's a good problem to have from a Crokes point of view.

"We were very disappointed last year after the way we performed. I suppose we wanted to right those wrongs. Of course, it is a step up to an All-Ireland semi-final and Croke Park, hopefully."

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