Dr. Crokes are County Champions for the fourth year in a row

October 22nd, 2013
by Weeshie Fogarty

Whatever slim chance of victory Austin Stacks harbored as the prepared for last Sundays County final against Dr Crokes was well and truly dashed when their management took the decision to play their Killarney town rivals man for man and not indulge in the swarming defensive twelve and thirteen men behind the ball. Quite simply Crokes at the moment are simply unbeatable in Kerry and I believe also in Munster, after this we await another day, because as a club they possess the best, most skilful, fittest, allied to superb combination, squad of players we have seen since the Mitchel's back in the sixties. And to attempt to take them on man to man is quite simply an impossible task. And so once again last Sunday we witnessed the near perfect display of Gaelic football as from one to fifteen the winners gave a truly magnificent exhibition from start to finish.

It was breathtaking stuff to watch, and of course it was so one sided for the neutrals that supporters were leaving the ground fifteen minutes into the second half.  However lovers of the game would have sat back and watched in admiration as the mighty Stacks were well and truly put to the sword. Hands up any one involved in any club in this county who would simply yearn to see his own club capable of playing football even a little close to what the Crokes have achieved. My hand is one that has shot up. Stephen Stack the Tralee side's manager will of course be bitterly disappointed at the margin of defeat but he must take great consolation form his first year in charge of the Rockies. He has a young squad, they have also reached the county league final and they will have learned a massive lesson from playing the Crokes despite the margin of defeat. They are in my opinion a work in progress.

A good start is half the battle and Crokes certainly zeroed in on this. A devastating first fifteen minutes in which they dominated midfield snapping up a succession of breaking balls, they are expert at this, saw them race into a huge lead as Brian Looney, Colm Cooper, Daithi Casey, Kieran o Leary and Chris Brady lofted over a series of brilliant points. The goal that was always threatening eventually came in the 24th minute. And this more than any other score of the day encapsulated for me all that is great and good in Crokes. A lovely swift passing movement out of defense found wing forward Alan o Sullivan. He in turn looked up, studied his options and then floated a long high pin point diagonal cross to Colm Cooper who had drifted out of sight behind his marker. Fielding the high ball he literally ghosted around Fergal McNamara and Kieran Donaghy to squeeze the ball, as only he could, between goalkeeper Darragh o Brien and his right hand post. It was game set and match and it was now only a case of what the champions would score during the remainder of the game.

Mention any aspect in the art of Gaelic football and the Crokes have near perfected it. And it's these words near perfection that resonates most of all with this particular Killarney side and I have seen every single Croke team in action since the late fifties. So what is the secret of their success? Of course they have superb individual players in their ranks most of whom have worn the Kerry jersey at some grade. However it's all about hard work and graft as Noel o Leary and Vince Casey their joint managers have constantly stated.  Vince Lombardi is recognized as the inventor of modern coaching methods and best known as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers during the 1960s. He once famously claimed that a single play had to be rehearsed at least one hundred times on the training ground before the players could even begin to get the hang of it. Tell this to the Croke players and you are talking to the converted. All our clubs should learn from this.

The declining state of the Kerry county championship was one of the main topics of conversation during the week. This of course has nothing to do the Killarney sides success and we will leave it for another day because this week is all about the four-in-a-row county titles won by Crokes. And now all the talk already is of the five-in-a-row and having seen and played against the great John Mitchel's side in the sixties comparisons between both will make fascinating debate. Crokes will win Munster and after that we wait to see exactly who emerges to challenge them in the All Ireland series. Finally congratulations to their fine young captain Ambrose o Donovan, my neighbor, whom I have watch grow from a young boy kicking around our neighborhood into the strapping young man he is to day, a credit to his parents.

Fogra; Amazing night last Friday evening at the Sneem Hotel, standing room only for the long awaited launch of the legendary Casey's Brothers DVD and book. The event surpasses all our expectations as the massive reception room was packed to capacity. They came from far and wide. Legends of the sport, Ronnie Delaney Olympic Champion, Mick o Connell the celebrated former Kerry midfielder, the amazing Mickie Palmer who played corner back in that epic final win over Dublin away back in 1955. Paud Fitzgerald Ras Tailteann cycle race winner in the fifties was in the company of his team mates from that era. John Lenihan our greatest ever mountain runner and world Hill Racing Champion, Ned Fitzgerald former Kerry captain and father of Maurice. Cathal Moynihan Olympic oarsman. The list is endless, and all came to pay their tributes to the Casey family who were there in numbers. Myrtle Casey aged 93 and her daughter Pat flew in from Texas. Myrtle had persuaded her Casey husband Jim to write the previously unpublished book and she signed hundreds of copies as the people crowded around. Christy Riordan and his son Tony did a magnificent job on the DVD while Collins Press the publishers were there in force. It went on long into the morning. A magical historic, momentous project that I was privileged to be involved in has now after many years come to fruition. The legendary Casey family all since deceased can now rest in peace. Their story, the greatest sporting story until now never told is well and truly established in the never ending chronicle of Kerry and Irish sport.

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