Dr Croke's shock favourites


Dr Croke's of Killarney caused a major surprise when they lowered the colours of fancied An Gaeltacht in this AIB Kerry county senior football final played on a heavy Austin Stack Park pitch in Tralee yesterday. This was a victory for teamwork and courage against a Gealtacht side heavily dependent on their four intercounty players.

Dr Croke's played the short handpassing game to perfection, whereas An Gaeltacht were disjointed and shot 12 wides to their opponents' two. With Dara O Cinneide and Aodhain Mac Gearailt struggling against the fired-up Croke's rearguard it never looked good for the West Kerry side.

Playing with the wind, Croke's raced clear in the first half. They opened the scoring with a great move which ended with 17-year-old Colm Cooper, the youngest of five brothers in the squad, splitting the posts after two minutes. An Gaeltacht kicked four wides before Pat O'Shea converted a Croke's free. Roland Neher made 0-3 after 16 minutes before An Gaeltacht went close with a shot which hit the post.

The goal that decided the game came in the 23rd minute after a brilliant move. Vincie Cooper broke up field and found his brother Colm, who spotted big midfielder Eoin Brosnan bursting through the middle. Brosnan, clean through, finished clinically low to the net for a capital goal.

Dara O Cinneide got his side's solitary first-half score in the 28th minute as Dr Croke's led 1-3 to 0-1 at the break. An Gaeltacht started the second half in whirlwind fashion inspired by Dara O Se, and points from Rob and Aodhain McGearailt and a free from O'Cinneide cut the lead to just 1-3 to 0-4 after six minutes of the half.

However the Kavanagh brothers and the Coopers were tenacious in the extreme for Dr Croke's. Danny Cooper made the run that saw him being fouled and captain Neher scored Croke's only second-half point. Conal O Cruadhlaoich and O Cinneide, with a fine effort, narrowed the gap to a point in the 25th minute but then Croke's frustrated their opponents with their possession game and in the final two minutes they strung an incredible 30 passes together without an opponent touching the ball. They then survived a late scare when An Gaeltacht had a goal disallowed for a square ball.

Dr Croke's: P O'Brien; D Kavanagh, J Cahillane, V Cooper; L Madden, D Cooper, E Kavanagh; D Moloney, E Brosnan (1-0); V Casey, R Neher (0-2), J Fleming; P O'Shea (0-1), C Murphy, C Cooper (0-1). Subs: B Moriarty for J Cahillane (injured); Mike Cooper for V Casey.

An Gaeltacht: Pol Ruiseal; M O'Conchuir, S Mac Sithigh, Marc O Se; T O Se, F O Se, C Breathnach; D O Se, P O Cuinn; R Mac Gearailt (0-1), JJ Corduibh, A Mac Gearailt (0-1); T O Conchuir, D O Cinneide (03), C O Dubhda. Subs: C O Cruadhlaoich (0-1) for T O Conchiur, S O Conchuir for JJ Corduibh; C O Cathasaigh for C O Dubhda.

Referee: D Donovan (Desmonds).