A game that ebbed and flowed throughout, that saw us trail by 10 points at the interval eventually swung our way in the second half thanks to a supreme team effort, a never say die attitude and an insatiable will to win that Crokes simply could not match.
Crokes lined out with two changes to their advertised 15 with Jason Lyne and Jordan Kiely being replaced by Shane Doolan and David Shaw respectively; the threat posed by Shaw was ominous as he was regularly plied with ball but did not make his presence felt until the 20th minute.
At that stage, we trailed by 0-06 to 0-04 and would not have been too unhappy given the strength of the wind we faced; then in a twinkling of an eye, Shaw fed Brian Looney for a simple goal and when Shaw himself found the net two minutes later, the signs were ominous. Barry John, having the better of matters with his county colleague Fionn Fitzgerald, was unlucky when set up by Karl Mullins, to see his shot cannon off the post and crossbar and with Crokes finishing the half stronger with points from Burns, O’Leary, Casey & Gooch, the interval deficit of 10 points simply illustrated their control and efficiency in front of goal – half time, Kerins O’Rahillys 0-06, Dr Crokes 2-10.
The second half saw us reduce the deficit by two points with minors from Jack and Barry John but Crokes were in no mood to surrender and quickly added a couple of scores of their own; the score stood at 2-12 to 0-11 when Jack found Tom Hoare with a delightful ball in front of goal and offloading to Tommy he found the net with a great left footed drive to reduce the deficit to 4 – Crokes response was immediate and two Kieran O’Leary points had them 6 to the good with about 15 minutes remaining.
We were now winning the midfield exchanges through David, Tommy was causing havoc on the edge of the square and BJ continued to pose problems – it was no surprise that Tommy further reduced the deficit when reacting quickest to Jack’s “45” coming off the post to leave just 3 between the sides with 24 minutes gone; we then hit a purple patch with rapid scores from Jack, Barry John (2), one a mammoth effort from distance and when Ross O’Callaghan, now pushed up to centre back, broke through he fisted over to give us the lead for the first time, 2-16 to 2-15 – there was now 27 minutes on the clock and when David found himself in space on the right a point looked on – however, the cavalry was arriving and quick hands from John C, Gavin and Ross saw the ball being palmed to the net by wing back Karl Mullins for a capital score.
We were rampant now and Gavin O’Brien tracking back effected a great turnover with Cormac picking up the pieces – he was involved at the end of the move which saw him split the posts to further increase our lead.
There was no way back for the Killarney side now as we held our shape and when Tommy fielded cleanly on the 36th minute from Gary’s kick out, careered through the middle before planting the ball sweetly between the posts, we knew it was our day.
This was a win for heart, guts and bravery with each of the 20 players contributing enormously to a famous win and we now can sit back until the weekend of the 29th/30th for our quarter final tie; a sincere thanks for the huge support which was evident throughout the game.
Team: Gary Kissane, Danny O’Sullivan, Ross O’Callaghan (0-01), Darragh McElligott, Ryan Carroll, Karl Mullins (1-0), Cormac Coffey ( 0-01), David Moran, Con Barrett, Gavin O’Brien ( 0-01), Jack Savage (0-07, 5fs), Cian Sayers, Barry J Keane ( 0-06), Tommy Walsh ( 2-02), John Ferguson.
Subs: Shane Brosnan, Tom Hoare, Gearóid Savage, David Murphy, John C O’Connor.
Thanks to Anna Marie for the shots!