East Kerry Championship: Semi-Final
Spa v Dr Crokes
Sunday at 2pm
Fitzgerald Stadium

Sunday’s Killarney derby between Spa and Dr Crokes promises to be a high-octane affair as both sides vie for a spot in the final of this year’s O’Donoghue Cup.

This rivalry has been fairly one-sided down through the years but Spa turned the tables back in June when they picked up a long-awaited 1-14 0-15 league victory up in Tullig. A first-half goal by Ciarán Spillane kept Spa in contention that day and late points by Shane Cronin (two) and Ryan O’Carroll proved crucial as the Crokes fell to a shock defeat.

All things told, it was an up-and-down league campaign for Spa and they finished up seventh in Division 1 with six wins and five defeats. They were naturally disappointed to have exited the Intermediate in the group phase but there was some joy in the championship for many of their players as 13 Spa men were part of the East Kerry team who won the Kerry Senior Football Championship earlier this month.

The absence through injury of Dara Moynihan is a blow but the fine form of those East Kerry boys, particularly the likes of Dan O’Donoghue, Liam Kearney, Shane Cronin and Even Cronin, bodes well heading into the business end of the East Kerry Championship. Victory over Crokes on Sunday would send Spa through to their first final since 1989 when they beat Gneeveguilla after a replay.

In recent years, the O’Donoghue Cup has been an opportunity for the Crokes to put the cherry on top of the icing on top of their cake. This time out, the O’Donoghue Cup is whole cake. Last weekend’s defeat to Dingle in a County League back game means that the Crokes are now facing the unfamiliar prospect of finishing 2019 trophyless.

Remarkably, the Lewis Road club have won at least one piece of silverware in each of the past 15 years and they will be keen to keep that run going by retaining the trophy they won back from Rathmore in 2018.

The winners of this match will take on either Legion or Gneeveguilla in the final next week. With the Crokes failing to advance to Munster for the first time in four years, the East Kerry Board will (barring replays) manage to get the tournament finished by December 8, two weeks earlier than last year’s decider which took place on December 22.



Gneeveguilla looking for another scalp

East Kerry Championship: Semi-Final
Killarney Legion v Gneeveguilla
Saturday at 2pm
Fitzgerald Stadium

The Magic of the Cup™ rarely applies to the East Kerry Championship. Since 2004, only two teams (Dr Crokes and Rathmore) have lifted the O’Donoghue Cup so it has been a lean spell indeed for the underdogs. Could Gneeveguilla buck the trend?

This year’s Division 3 champions were fancied by many to give out-of-form Rathmore a good game last weekend but I’m not sure how many people thought they’d go out and actually win it. But win it they did.

A Shane Crowley goal gave the Junior Premier outfit the perfect start and they led by five, 1-6 to 0-4, at the interval. A second goal early in the second helped to open up a commanding 2-7 to 0-4 lead and despite a spirited Rathmore comeback, they just about held on to win by a solitary point. Gneeveguilla defender DJ Murphy was named Man of the Match.

Next up for Gneeveguilla are another Division 1 club in the Legion. The Killarney side had a resounding victory over Fossa in the last round, eventually winning with 15 points to spare.

As a senior club, Legion will naturally be favourites to advance to their fourth final since 2013 but Stephen Stack’s side will have to be wary of the threat posed by their semi-final opponents. If they do manage to get over the line, an all-Killarney final against either the Crokes or Spa beckons.