FOR sheer drama and raw, white knuckle excitement, there is really is nothing to compare with a Dr Crokes v Killarney Legion local derby showdown, particularly when the encounter is a tense, knockout affair in the latter stages of a championship campaign.
Today’s East Kerry SFC quarter-final clash at Direen had it all and, fittingly after an a thoroughly engaging clash, there was only a kick of a ball between them at the close.
The bragging rights this year go to Dr Crokes who, despite being down to just 12 men in the latter stages, just about held on for a 2-15 to 0-18 victory against the O’Donoghue Cup holders.
Tempers flared in the dramatic last quarter and with Fionn Fitzgerald having already seen red, he was joined on the sideline by veteran team-mate Kieran O’Leary while Mark O’Shea also got his marching orders very late on. Earlier evergreen Dr Crokes defender Mike Moloney and Legion’s Donal Lyne were black-carded and sin-binned.
Passion and determination aside, the main reason Edmund O’Sullivan’s side won this tie was Micheál Burns who was outstanding throughout and was scoring for fun, with six points in the first half alone and he struck the all-important winning goal late in the second.
After bridging a 43-year gap last year, Legion had harboured hopes of making it two O’Donoghue Cup wins on the trot but Crokes proved an irresistible force with Burns, Brian Looney, Gavin White, Mark O’Shea, Cillian Fitzgerald and Michael Potts all making their mark on proceedings.
Legion paid the price for some off-target shooting and while Conor Keane, James O’Donoghue, Peter McCarthy, Darragh Lyne and the outstanding Cian Gammell played well, they just came up short when converting scoring opportunities at crucial stages.
Crokes led 0-11 to 0-8 at the interval but Legion had pulled level thanks to points from McCarthy and Keane (two).
Then, however, an opportunist goal from Michael Potts – whose speed is electrifying – gave Crokes the edge with David Shaw and Gavin White adding to their advantage.
Matters got a little over-heated as the game entered its final quarter and that indiscipline could have come as a high price for Crokes but the 12 players still on the field of play confined Legion to snatched chances and rushed decision making.
Thanks to a super Jonathan Lyne point and a James O’Donoghue double, there was still only a point in it in the pulsating final stages but cometh the hour, cometh the man and a Micheál Burns goal, capitalising on a break around midfield and put clear on goal by Kieran O’Leary, sealed it in favour of the black and amber when he shot low to the right of Brian Kelly.
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