Kerry Senior Football Championship Final – Dr. Crokes 2-8 Mid Kerry 0-9

Casey fires classy Crokes to title glory

From the Irish Independent newspaper

Monday October 31 2011

SAVING their best for the biggest day of all in the Kingdom, Dr Crokes retained their title in convincing fashion at Fitzgerald Stadium yesterday. Under pressure heading into this county decider after a few below-par performances, Dr Crokes returned to form in style, controlling the game from the outset, helped in no small part by Colm Cooper’s goal after just 20 seconds. It was an early goal made by a Johnny Buckley and Kieran O’Leary combination that gave a sharp and clinical Dr Crokes the dream start, as they raced 1-3 to 0-0 ahead. It was a game where goals had a huge part to play, with Dr Crokes’ second goal — scored by Kerry panellist Daithi Casey after nine minutes of the second half — the match-defining moment. Before Casey made the most of a goalkeeping error to change the outlook of this final, Mid Kerry had battled back from a poor first-half display to burst into life in the opening stages of the second half.

Trailing 1-4 to 0-1 at the break (wing-back Pa Kilkenny scored their only first-half point on 22 minutes), the divisional side rattled off four successive points at the start of the second half to leave just two points between the teams — Gavin O’Grady (2), Darran O’Sullivan and Sean O’Sullivan all making their mark. But Dr Crokes then got a double slice of luck. Firstly, midfielder Ambrose O’Donovan was lucky to escape with only a yellow card after an off-the-ball incident, before Casey grabbed a fortuitous goal — a pivotal score, as his manager Harry O’Neill explained. “After five minutes of the second half they had four points kicked,” he said. “It was back to two points and in the melting pot. The goal gave us that bit of breathing space and from there I thought we controlled the game.”

Mid Kerry wing-back Bernard Murphy hit back straight away with a point but Crokes were now in control, with captain Luke Quinn, Fionn Fitzgerald, John Payne and Eoin Brosnan outstanding in defence, and Casey, Jamie Doolan and, of course, Cooper spearheading the attack. O’Leary, Buckley and Cooper hit three on the bounce, as Dr Crokes eased 2-7 to 0-6 ahead at the three-quarter stage.

The game was effectively over at that point, as Mid Kerry star Darran O’Sullivan later conceded. “Over the course of the game we weren’t good enough,” he said. “They performed. We didn’t. We didn’t play at all in the first half. You can credit Crokes with that or maybe we were just enjoying the day too much. We just didn’t have it.” Mid Kerry then made a late surge, with Gary Sayers coming off the bench to score 0-2 and Colm Kerins also on target, but it was too little too late, as Dr Crokes were closing out this final in their inimitable style.

As impressive as the reigning champions forwards were, it was that rearguard performance against a much-vaunted Mid Kerry forward-line that really shone brightest on a wet and dreary day in Killarney. “It was a strong defensive display,” said O’Neill. “These guys always come up trumps for us in the big games, against Austin Stacks in last year’s county final, against the might of South Kerry as well. I am delighted for them, especially for Luke Quinn. He had a fantastic game today in an area where we were supposed to be weak but he gave a Man-of-the-Match performance,”

To cap a wonderful day for Dr Crokes — retaining the Kerry SFC title for the first time since 1914 — midfielder O’Donovan had the final say, lofting over a huge score late on. Winning the senior county title for the first time in Killarney, with their club grounds just across the road from Fitzgerald Stadium, Dr Crokes are now turning their attention towards a Munster quarter-final away to Waterford champions Ballinacourty next Sunday. With the first-half collapse against Nemo Rangers in last season’s provincial final still a painful memory, Dr Crokes captain Quinn said: “That day we didn’t show up at all but we’ve learned from that and it won’t happen to us again. We are looking forward now to seeing what Munster will bring.”

Scorers — Dr Crokes: C Cooper 1-3 (0-1f), D Casey 1-1 (0-1f), K O’Leary, B Looney, A O’Donovan, J Buckley 0-1 each. Mid Kerry: G O’Grady (2f), G Sayers 0-2 each, D O’Sullivan, S O’Sullivan, C Kerins, P Kilkenny, B Murphy 0-1 each.

Dr Crokes — A Kelly; J Payne, L Quinn, D O’Leary; F Fitzgerald; E Brosnan, S Myers; A O’Donovan, J Buckley; A Kenneally, D Casey, B Looney; C Cooper, K O’Leary, J Doolan. Subs: C Brady for Doolan (52); B McMahon for Kenneally (55).

Mid Kerry — M Moriarty; A Cahillane, F Griffin, G Hartnett; P Kilkenny, M Mangan, B Murphy; M Burke , D Walsh; D Kelliher, D O’Sullivan, S O’Sullivan; G O’Grady, C Kerins , J Flynn. Subs: G Sayers for S O’Sullivan (45); C McGillicuddy for Kerins (58); C Moriarty for Flynn (58).

Ref — P Hayes (Kerins O’Rahillys)


Crafty Crokes kings again – Examiner 2011

From the Irish Examiner newspaper

Dr Crokes 2-8 Mid Kerry 0-9

By Fintan O’Toole

Monday, October 31, 2011

THERE must have been times in recent years when Dr Crokes pondered if their luckless streak in Kerry deciders would ever cease.County final day proved to be the graveyard for their ambitions three times between 2005 and 2009, yet those ghastly experiences have proved informative and a more seasoned team has intelligently absorbed those lessons. Yesterday in Fitzgerald Stadium they demonstrated their staying power by claiming a second successive senior crown by staving off the challenge of Mid Kerry. It was a special success as they finally managed to taste glory in the ground that is only separated from their own club base by the width of the Lewis Road.

On a day when howling winds and heavy showers prohibited sparkling passages of play, Dr Crokes dug in and held their nerve. Shorn of cornerstones of their rearguard and handicapped by stalled preparations, 2011 has been a testing campaign. That was reflected in the difficulties they endured in overcoming the quarter-final and semi-final hurdles but a two-week break from competitive action left them refreshed when they arrived for yesterday’s showdown. They were full of energy and invention from the off, dominating the first-half exchanges as they fashioned a 1-4 to 0-1 lead by the interval. Mid Kerry countered strongly in the second-half but too great a gap had been created. That dynamic start to the game had proved pivotal in ensuring Dr Crokes full-back Luke Quinn would hoist the Bishop Moynihan Cup into the air afterwards.

Scores were in short supply given the elements and thus the two green flags that Dr Crokes raised were of incalculable worth. Supporters had barely settled into their seats when Colm Cooper prodded the ball into the back of the net with a mere 20 seconds elapsed, after a Kieran O’Leary burst forward had cut open the Mid Kerry defence. That set the tone for Dr Crokes early dominance but they were just as grateful for the second strike which arrived in the 40th minute courtesy of Daithí Casey. A high ball lofted in by Cooper tempted Mike Moriarty to venture out from the Mid Kerry goal but the ball broke from a cluster of players towards Casey who finished coolly to the net despite the efforts of Aaron Cahillane to prevent the goal. That Dr Crokes score was the perfect riposte as Mid Kerry had strung together four successive points after the interval to cut the margin to two points, 1-4 to 0-5.

Mid Kerry’s scoring salvo occurred too late. They were flat-footed during the opening half as they struggled to prise open the Crokes defence. Their tactic of pumping high balls into big full-forward Colm Kerins yielded little joy as he was superbly marshalled by Luke Quinn. John Payne and Eoin Brosnan were outstanding in stifling the Glenbeigh/Glencar threats of Darran O’Sullivan and Gavan O’Grady, while Fionn Fitzgerald had a fine afternoon on the right flank of defence. A neat point by Pa Kilkenny in the 22nd minute was the solitary effort that Mid Kerry could muster in the first-half as their shooting was poor and they also were denied a goal when Alan Kelly produced a marvellous block to stop an O’Grady shot.

The second-half was initially about soaking up the pressure for Dr Crokes. The switch of Fergal Griffin to midfield helped alter Mid Kerry’s fortunes as he inspirationally drove his team on while the introduction of Gary Sayers from the bench also assisted their comeback. But the concession of the second goal was a killer blow for the divisional side bidding to win the title for the first time since 2008. Dr Crokes expertly retained possession in the closing stages as they controlled the game. Casey and Johnny Buckley, who completed an unique double of Cork and Kerry senior football titles in the same year, grew in stature while Cooper was terrific with his range of passing and movement. A flurry of Mid Kerry points from O’Grady and Sayers did trim the gap to 2-7 to 0-9 by the 54th minute and Dr Crokes spurned a couple of chances to plunder a third goal. However, those misses were not significant and when Ambrose O’Donovan banged an injury-time shot over the bar from distance, the spoils from this game were assured.

Scorers for Dr Crokes: C Cooper 1-3 (1f), D Casey 1-1 (1f), B Looney, K O’Leary, J Buckley, A O’Donovan 0-1 each.

Scorers for Mid Kerry: G O’Grady 0-3 (1f), G Sayers 0-2, P Kilkenny, D O’Sullivan, S O’Sullivan, B Murphy 0-1 each

Subs for Dr Crokes: C Brady for Doolan (51), B MacMahon for Kenneally (55).

Subs for Mid Kerry: G Sayers (Keel) for S O’Sullivan (44), C McGillicuddy (Glenbeigh/Glencar) for Kerins (57), C Moriarty (Milltown/Castlemaine) for Flynn (57).

Referee: Paul Hayes (Kerins O’Rahilly’s)

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