A performance that deserved more saw us come up agonisingly short when going down to Dr Crokes by two points in round 2 of the senior club championship.
We made just the one change from our defeat to Austin Stacks last week with Diarmuid O’Sullivan being introduced to the attack in the place of midfielder John C O ‘Connor.
Having won the toss, Crokes elected to play into the slight breeze but John Ferguson was first to raise a white flag when pointing from play after good approach work from Con Barrett and Tommy Walsh.From the outset, it was clear that we were a different side to last week and took the play to Crokes at every opportunity. Kieran O’Leary quickly wiped out our lead when having slipped inside, his initial shot was parried by Gary Kissane but the ball fell kindly for him and he nudged the ball over the line; a wide from Barry John was followed by two quick points from Jack Savage and Gavin O’Brien to level the scores; a point at the other end from Tony Brosnan was quickly negated by John Ferguson in the 11th minute but Crokes edged ahead again when Kieran O’Leary pointed, 1-02 to 0-04. It was to get better for the Killarney side almost immediately when Daithi Casey seized on a ball in midfield and ran through the heart of our defence for a killer goal. However, we regrouped and regained our composure and with good play from Cormac Coffey and Karl Mullins in defence allied to the continued threat from John Ferguson up front we chipped away at the lead and points from Jack Savage (2), Barry John ( 2) and Gavin O’Brien had us in the lead at the half time whistle, 0-09 to 2-02. Crokes had failed to score in this half for approx 16 mins.
The resumption saw no changes to either side and when Tommy Walsh won the throw in, the ball found its way to Gavin O’Brien who slipped his marker and bore down on goal- he was hauled back for a free and a black card for David O’Leary who was replaced by Mike Potts – Jack slotted the free and we were two to the good.
Dr Crokes found their rhythm with Johnny Buckley and Paul Clarke to the fore and with Buckley firing over two points and a further minor from Micheal Burns, Crokes had edged ahead again; there was 3 points between the sides with the clock showing 10 mins left when a defence splitting move saw Gavin O’Brien rise highest at the far post to fist to the net, game on.
Crokes who had by this time introduced Colm Cooper and Eoin Brosnan, edged ahead again but the sides were all square as the clock showed 25 mins gone; an attack which had score written all over was lost when the ball was fumbled leading to a Crokes score which was followed by another point from Tony Brosnan. We strove manfully to wrestle back the initiative but were denied by some inconsistency from the referee who failed to award a free for a foul on Tom Hoare and who then deemed a Crokes defender was fouled when it looked like he had nowhere to go and was in fact overplaying the ball. The exchanges were robust at this stage and following a late tackle on Jack Savage, the referee having consulted with his linesman, flashed a red card to one of the Crokes attackers. Soon after, the final whistle sounded, resulting in a second loss in this competition.
As stated at the outset, this was a game where we really ought to have gotten something out of but the performance if built upon gives plenty of reason for optimism for our trip to Gallarus next weekend which will see the loser of this game finish on zero points and a relegation battle later in the year with the bottom team in Group 2.
Team: Gary Kissane, Danny O’Sullivan, Ross O’Callaghan, Shane Brosnan, Ryan Carroll, Karl Mullins, Cormac Coffey, Cian Sayers, Con Barrett, Gavin O’Brien ( 1-01), Tommy Walsh, Jack Savage ( 0-05), Barry John Keane ( 0-04), Diarmuid O’Sullivan, John Ferguson ( 0-04).
Subs: John C O’Connor, Tom Hoare.