Kerry SFC Final
Dr Crokes v Dingle
Today at 3pm
Austin Stack Park

When Crokes fell apart against Kerins O’Rahilly’s at the start of September, obituaries had already been written before people had reached the bottom of the Sandpit. Half the team were past it. This fella is too old. That fella isn’t up to it.

It always amazes me how short the memory of a football fan is. I definitely thought they were faltering somewhat, and their flaws were certainly laid bare in that final quarter, but to write this Crokes team off completely was madness.

I remember speaking to a friend (I won’t say what club he is) and he was delighted. “It makes the championship way more interesting,” he said. I agreed but warned that Crokes might come back stronger through the back door.

“There’s a back door?! Ah bollocks.”

It does seem as though that shock to the system was exactly what Crokes needed and bar the opening 10 or 15 minutes against An Ghaeltacht in Round 3, they’ve been back to their devastating best. They put Legion to the sword in the quarters and exacted revenge against Rahilly’s in Tralee a fortnight ago.

They are odds-on favourites to win on Sunday and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone this side of Páirc an Ághasaigh who would back against them.

Not that Dingle will make it easy for them. I was actually away for both the drawn game against East Kerry and the replay so I can’t comment too much on what transpired but by all accounts there was a nastiness to their game that unsettled their opponents.

Tony Brosnan in particular is sure to be in for a bumpy ride but Crokes can mix it as well so things could get a bit spicy. The last thing Pat O’Shea will want is an hour-long fight, though. Crokes are the better team and they will in all likelihood beat Dingle at football – if a game of football is what we get. The referee will play a big role in this regard.

Of course, it would be disrespectful to dismiss Dingle as merely a team of fighters. They have some outstanding footballers, most notably goal machine Paul Geaney who is liable to do damage against any full back line he comes up against.

One of the criticisms I heard of East Kerry the last day was that they left Geaney 1 v 1 with his marker at the top of the square. I don’t think Crokes will be that naïve and I’d expect him to be smothered any time a long ball comes in his direction.

Roving defender Tom O’Sullivan continues to turn heads too and the all-action half-back kicked five points from play in his last outing. It will be interesting to see who is tasked with keeping him quiet in the decider.

I just think Crokes have too many weapons up front. Even if the free-scoring Tony Brosnan is kept quiet – which won’t be easily done – you have the revitalised Kieran O’Leary, you have David Shaw, you have Jordan Kiely… Everywhere you look there’s a potential match-winner and that’s what continues to separate Crokes from every other team in Kerry.

Verdict: Crokes by six.

Pic: Eamonn Keogh.

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