Keys to the footballing Kingdom at stake as Stacks bid to end Dr Crokes’ four-in-a-row bid
Traleee club keen to end a title drought stretching back to 1994
So while this Kerry final is a tantalising prospect in its own right, it also showcases an interesting period for the Kingdom.
The team has seldom won as many neutral fans in its winning years as it did in its gallant semi-final display against Dublin last summer – even if those garlands mean nothing in Kerry.
There is a sense now that Kerry, despite the admirable momentum generated by first year manager Eamon Fitzmaurice, are fighting against the dying of the light. The recent retirement of Tomás Ó Sé, one of the all-time greats, reinforced that notion.
Tomorrow, big Kieran Donaghy will anchor the midfield for Stacks and Kerry supporters will wonder how many more years he has in that big frame.
Colm Cooper is only 30 and has said he has no intention of quitting but the very fact that Cooper – the kid, the lodestone – is speaking in those terms is sobering. In short, Kerry football is at a crossing point.
Dr Crokes defeated Kerins O’Rahilly’s by 0-14 to 0-4 in their semi-final. Austin Stacks overcame Feale Rangers by 3-12 to 0-3.
“I don’t know was it legs or what it was but they got on top at midfield and they opened us up and pushed on from there,” said O’Rahilly’s defender Aidan O’Mahony, another Kerry ultra who must decide whether or not to carry on with the county.
“Rathmore have some great young players coming through but you have to take your hat off to Crokes, they got the goal and pushed on. They play to a system and when you have Colm Cooper in the team orchestrating, it is very hard to stop them.
“When they get the space, they are very dangerous. They can really pick out a pass and every one of their players are good, left and right. That is what they did to us in the second half.”
But the lopsided nature of both games does not bode well for the welfare of the game in the Kingdom. As can often happen, the standard which Crokes have striven for has disguised the state of the game in general in the county.
“My general opinion is that the standard of football in Kerry was poor overall this summer,” says John O’Keefe, who was recently involved in coaching the Kerry minors with Mickey Ned O’Sullivan.
“It was significant that both clubs won their respective games so easily. Kerins O’Rahilly’s beat a South Kerry team as well in one of the earlier rounds so it doesn’t augur well for Kerry, I would think. Kerry don’t have at the moment stand -out young players who are ready to come into the panel.
“That is why we are trying hard lately at minor and U-21 but we aren’t making the breakthrough. There are no obvious examples of stand-out young players coming through at the moment anyway.”