Crokes Win Three In A Row County Championships

October 30th, 2012
by Weeshie Fogarty

The old adage, "a good start is half the battle" was never more evident than what we witnessed in Austin Stack park last Sunday as Dr Crokes literally demolished the hopes of Dingle to complete a historic three-in-a-row county titles. While Crokes went into the game as hot favourites the fact that Dingle were at the top of the county league table and had captured the imagination of their supporters in their run to the final scoring goals for fun had raised hopes among their followers that they would push the champions to the very end. But of course the bottom line is that this Crokes panel and I emphasis the word panel in difference to the word team is in my opinion one of the best we have seen in modern times. And let me throw the cat among the proverbial pigeons when I say that they are within touching distance of the record winning great John Mitchels five-in-a-row championship side of the sixties. On their present form who is going to stop their winning run?

 Last Sunday's second half performance when they scored eight points against the wind was the near perfect thirty minutes of Gaelic football and Dingle just happened to be the unfortunate side to be at the receiving end of this devastating display. Whatever happens for the remaining of the campaign as Crokes zero in on March 17th in Croke Park and a second all Ireland club title their performance last Sunday will linger long in the memory of those present. While the Westerners battled bravely to the very end this final was all about the winners. From one to fifteen this was a near flawless display and as mentioned already the great start literally killed off the game as a contest. The two killer goals came within minutes of each other and they were the essence of all that is good and great in Gaelic football. Crokes had won the toss and elected to play with a strong wind at their backs, defending the so called John Mitchells goal. Kieran o Leary their outstanding captain was fouled from a kick out, Colm Cooper as only he could found Chris Brady with a lightning quick free and the Crokes youngster made no mistake as he drilled a daisy cutter low to Sean Flaherty's left. It was all so simple in its excitation but the quick thinking, running off the ball and clinical finish to the net set the tone for what was to follow. And the second goal two minutes later was even better.

Johnny Buckley who with Ambrose o Donovan has developed into the best mid field pairing in club football in this county fielded high in the middle of the field. Brian Looney who had his best ever game in the black and amber took the pass, the ball finished up with Colm Cooper but it was the run and finish of Looney which light up the gloom of this November afternoon. As soon as he had delivered the ball from around the mid field area Brian sprinted for goal, took a inch perfect pass from Cooper and his bullet of a shot across the fact of the Dingle goal was nestling high in Sean Flaherty's net before the Dingle man could even blink. A brilliant finish and goal worthy in his execution great enough to win any match. Ten minutes gone it was game, set and match and a hat trick of county titles for the lake side men. In fairness to Murt Moriarty's lads they never dropped their heads and had their best spell following the two goals up until half time but the green flags they so desperately needed to raise never looked like coming. Brendan Kelleher, Mikey Geaney, Billy o Connor and Paul Geaney literally gave their all but the Croke defence despite conceding a lot of possession before half time never look like being breeched. Going in at half time 2-5 to 0-6 in the lead was always going to be enough for the winners as they are so well capable of even playing better against the wind. And that is exactly the way it developed in that second half period.

Under new manager Noel o Leary the  three times champions are showing a massive appetite in their play and when you look  at the "famous stats" which are all the rage in to days game it really emphasis just how clinical the Crokes are playing under their new leader. Twenty two shots at goal, all the forwards scoring off play, just six wides and one dropped shot. Clinical stuff and any club manager hoping to learn from this should look at the amazing flat out work rate from the champions all over the field. The perfect pass to the forwards, always 60/40% in favour of the receiver. And then most importantly of all and so simple again, the man without the ball always available and always running into the open space. You can contain and limit Colm Cooper from scoring but he will be responsible for beating you at the end. First ten minutes he handled the ball five times and set up his team mates for 2-2. That says it all in my book.

Great credit to Dingle for not playing that terrible swarming, crowding, fourteen men behind the ball game which in my opinion is terrible blight in the present era. You might say they were naive in this respect but unlike many club sides to day they stood by their principles and played traditional West Kerry football. Referee Paul Hayes added greatly to the occasion with good sensible use of the whistle and not the basketball style refereeing we see so much of to day.  Crokes are richly deserved champions, and it should also be pointed out they are scrupulously fair in all aspects of their play which is one of the hall marks of any successful team. It will take a great side to stop them and their march to Munster honors will not be halted by John Kennedy's men in Clare next Sunday.

Fogra: A date for your diary. Kerry's legendary footballer Maurice Fitzgerald as very kindly accepted my invitation to launch my recently published Collins Press book, My Beautiful Obsession-Chasing the Kerry Dream. It will take place in The Gleneagle Hotel Killarney next Friday week November 16th, 8 pm throw in. Moyvane's renowned poet and author Gabriel Fitzmaurice will be in charge of events on the night. Impossible of course to get invitations out to everyone with an interest so you are now cordially invited to attend. Your support would be greatly appreciated.

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