There are few outside of Strand Road who would give us a chance of bringing down hot favourites Dr Crokes in our round 2 game on Sunday next but there are compelling reasons to believe that this game will be an awful lot closer than some pundits would have us believe.
Firstly there is the most recent clash in the club championship (click here for match report) which was in the melting pot right to the finish and which saw the sides level with just five minutes remaining – indeed were it not for a fumbled ball when we were in a 3 on 2 situation forty yards from goal the outcome may well have been very different – what we did learn however, is that this Crokes team are battle hardened and know how to eke out victories through years of experience.
Secondly, both sides had contrasting fortunes in their first round games against divisional opponents.
Whilst we played well in Listowel last weekend and in truth never looked in danger of losing, the Lewis Road side surprisingly struggled at home to St Kierans and for long periods looked to be heading for a shock exit; Kierans led by two points at the interval, 1-07 to 0-08, having exposed gaps in the home defence which is normally one of the tightest in the championship – the long diagonal ball seemed to cause havoc every time it was played in and the loss of Mike Moloney with five minutes to go to half time was keenly felt.
The second half saw Kierans continue where they had left off and they were still in front with about a quarter of an hour to go – the introduction of Kieran O’Leary for the black carded John Payne on 47 minutes was perhaps the turning point and from here to the finish the craft and experience of the home side saw them home but not without a fright – the concession of 2-15 to Kierans will without doubt be something Pat O’Shea and Co will have been working on for the past week.
For our part, last weekend was the first time that this particular 15 had taken the field together and Micheál Quirke and his team will have been happy with the outcome – a return of 3-15 with just four wides over the hour is impressive with some fine link up play throughout the field. The one worry would be the goal chances offered up which Gary Kissane was equal to but if the same chances are presented next weekend, its unlikely the Crokes attackers would be as profligate.
All things considered this has the making of an intriguing encounter and is certain to go down to the wire – there is no doubt we have the players to inflict maximum pain to the opposition whilst Crokes will be smarting after their none too convincing win over St Kierans – it all kicks off at 3.45 and don’t be surprised if the advertised extra time is required to separate the sides.