Thursday 26 April 2018

No Crokes revenge mission -- O'Neill

Kieran McCarthy

DR Crokes manager Harry O'Neill insists that the Kerry club are not looking for revenge against Crossmaglen Rangers in tomorrow's hugely anticipated All-Ireland club semi-final.

Five years ago, Crossmaglen defeated Crokes in an All-Ireland final replay after an incident-packed two games, but O'Neill is adamant that loss won't be a factor.

"The lads will have learned from that experience but we won't be looking back at those games or going on any revenge missions or anything like that," O'Neill said.

"I wasn't involved in the management set-up then, neither were any of this current management team -- a lot of the players have changed as well. What we are looking for is to use the experience of the lads that were there on the day and learn from it."

The Crokes manager accepts that his side face their biggest test yet against the reigning All-Ireland champions.

"Crossmaglen are the blueprint for club football at the moment. They win Armagh and Ulster titles with astounding regularity, and once they get out of Ulster then they are very hard to beat. Their recent record speaks for itself," said O'Neill (pictured below).

"They had to reinvent their team last year, literally came up with a brand new team and they still blew everyone else away. They have a belief amongst themselves now that they can keep winning All-Irelands but it's a great challenge for our lads to try and stop them.

"If you want to get to an All-Ireland final these days, you are going to come across Crossmaglen and you are going to have to beat them. It is the acid test for this team, we are up against the All-Ireland champions but we feel that we have a very, very good team here.

"Our preparations have gone well and we believe we can turn them over."

O'Neill also insists that his team need to concentrate on their own game and play clever football, saying: "Just looking at the current Crossmaglen team, they play a fantastic, direct and hard style of football, a lot of catch and kick, and they move the ball from the defence to the forward line very fast. They tackle hard, they tackle fair.

"If you carry the ball into them, tough luck, they will take it off you. We will have to figure out how to counteract that. Physically, we should be well able to cope with them but they are very good at tackling and dispossessing players.

"If we play into their hands, then I have no doubt that they will beat us but if we can try and impose our game on them, will they be able to counteract that?"

Dr Crokes will be missing the injured duo of Shane Myers and Cillian Fitzgerald for tomorrow's game.

Irish Independent

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