Kerry Senior Club Championship
Dr Crokes 1-18 Templenoe 0-10
Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney
It was quiet in the Fitzgerald Stadium last night. How quiet? Well, maybe this anecdote will illustrate the point.
Towards the end of this one-sided encounter between Crokes and Templenoe, a Killian Spillane wide was incorrectly ruled as a point by one of the umpires at the scoreboard end of the ground.
A couple of Dr Crokes supporters beneath the press box, high up at the top of the terrace, rightly questioned the decision (half in jest – the match was over as a contest). The umpire, quickly realising his mistake, dramatically signaled first for a wide and then, jokingly of course, for Hawkeye, and he and the Crokes contingent shared a laugh at the mix-up.
The point of the story? The man in the white jacket could clearly hear the Crokes fans high up on the terrace, and they could hear him too.
It’s hard to imagine such an exchange happening under normal championship circumstances but, as we all know, the current circumstances are far from normal.
In line with government regulations aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus, just 200 people were at this highly-anticipated Senior Club Championship opener, and that’s including players, management, club officials, match officials, county board officials, stewards and the media.
The GAA are keen for this figure to be increased but for the moment clubs are being given an allocation of 40 tickets to divide up between all of their supporters. The demand has understandably been huge; one club officer has described the current scramble for tickets as “worse than an All-Ireland”.
For those who are unable to attend, selected matches are being streamed online by Kerry GAA.
At least there was some degree of normality out on the pitch as the top senior club forward in the county gave a typically electrifying performance. Dr Crokes star Tony Brosnan was superb, scoring at will and terrorising the Templenoe defence from start to finish.
Brosnan has this innate ability to change direction instantaneously. It’s almost like a glitch in a video game. He’s facing one way then *click* he’s facing in the opposite direction. On several occasions on Friday night he duped his marker – and the other 198 people in the stadium – with one of his trademark dummies and once he has that yard of space, he rarely misses the target.
With Brosnan on form Templenoe were always going to be up against it but things could have been very different had Adrian Spillane’s thunderous, left-footed shot gone in off the bar in the 24th minute. Unfortunately for the newly-promoted side, the midfielder’s effort cannoned back off the woodwork and Crokes cleared the danger. Had it gone in, it would have levelled the tie at 0-6 to 1-3.
Crokes capitalised on this good fortune by rattling off 1-3 without reply. The goal, unsurprisingly, came from the boot of Brosnan when he gathered Mark O’Shea’s delectable long pass before wheeling to his left and firing an unstoppable strike to the bottom corner of the net.
The Killarney side now led by nine points and the damage was more or less done.
The Intermediate champions were floored by that quickfire six-point haul and, perhaps understandably, they struggled to pick themselves up from the canvas. Killian Spillane did manage to take his tally to 0-4 in the second half but it counted for little in the end as Crokes ran out 11-point winners.
Crokes manager Edmund O’Sullivan had the luxury of calling some of his senior players ashore in that second half; John Payne, Mike Moloney, Johnny Buckley and the outstanding Brian Looney were all withdrawn to warm receptions (or as warm as a reception can be when you only have 40 supporters in a 35,000-capacity stadium).
Bigger challenges await the men from Lewis Road and with influential forwards Daithí Casey and Kieran O’Leary out through injury, they will need those other experienced heads now more than ever.
Dr Crokes scorers: Tony Brosnan 1-8 (0-3f), David Shaw 0-5 (0-3f), Micheál Burns 0-3, Michael Potts 0-1, Brian Looney 0-1.
Templenoe scorers: Killian Spillane 0-4 (0-2f), Stephen O’Sulllivan 0-3 (0-1m), Seán Sheehan 0-1, Brian Crowley 0-1, Colin Crowley 0-1.
1. Shane Murphy
17. John Payne
3. Michael Moloney
4. Fionn Fitzgerald
2. David Naughton
6. Gavin White
15. Cillian Fitzgerald
8. Mark O’Shea
9. Johnny Buckley
7. Michael Potts
11. Micheál Burns
12. Brian Looney
13. Tony Brosnan
14. David Shaw
21. Chris Doncel
Subs: Alan O’Sullivan for Payne, Billy Courtney for Buckley, Mikey Casey for Looney, Brian Fitzgerald for Moloney, Cillian O’Regan for O’Shea.
Sin Bin: Cillian Fitzgerald (38th minute).
1. Mark Looney
2. Mike Hallissey
3. Kieran O’Neill
4. John Spillane
5. Gavin Crowley
6. Danny Cahalane
7. John Rice
10. Teddy Doyle
9. Adrian Spillane
8. Seán Sheehan
11. Brian Crowley
12. Josh Crowley Holland
13. Stephen O’Sullivan
14. Killian Spillane
15. Cian Hallissey
Subs: Colin Crowley for Doyle, Tom Spillane for Crowley Holland, Martin Reilly for Cian Hallissey.
Sin Bin: None.