BRIAN LOONEY was Dr Crokes’ hero as the Munster senior club champions won the East Kerry (O’Donoghue Cup) senior championship for the sixth year in-a-row yesterday.
Clinical wing-forward Looney weighed in with 0-7, all from play, as Crokes fought off a determined Rathmore challenge at Fitzgerald Stadium in what was the Kerry champions’ last competitive game before their All-Ireland club semi-final against Crossmaglen Rangers next month.
Despite watching their six-point half-time advantage, 0-9 to 0-3, reduced to just three points, 0-15 to 1-9, with two minutes left after John Buckley’s penalty for Rathmore, Crokes never panicked, with Colm Cooper and Looney added two insurance scores late on.
But Crokes manager Harry O’Neill warned: “We have to raise that bar when we play Crossmaglen. That performance by us tod ay would not have been good enough against them.”
Dr Crokes raced into a 0-9 to 0-3 first-half lead, with Looney (0-4) and Cooper (0-3) offered far too much space by the Rathmore defence.
But a more committed second-half performance from Rathmore, who were missing the suspended Aidan O’Mahony, saw them reel in Crokes, as Mike O’Riordan scored 0-4, along with efforts from Marc Reen and Paul Murphy.
While scores from Kieran O’Leary and Looney kept Crokes in front, John Buckley’s late penalty set-up a grandstand finish. But it was too little too late for Kerry club champions Rathmore, who suffered district final heartbreak at the hands of Crokes for the second year running.
Scorers for Dr Crokes: B Looney 0-7, C Cooper 0-4 (2fs), K O’Leary 0-3, D Casey 0-2 (1f), J Buckley 0-1.
Scorers for Rathmore: M O’Riordan 0-6 (5fs), J Buckley 1-0 pen, B O’Keeffe, P Murphy, M Reen 0-1 each.
DR CROKES: A Kelly, K McMahon, L Quinn, D O’Leary; F Fitzgerald, E Brosnan, S Myers; B McMahon, J Buckley; A Kenneally, D Casey, B Looney; C Cooper, K O’Leary, J Doolan.
Subs: C Brady for J Doolan (inj, 26); C Fitzgerald for S Myers (inj, 51); S O’Neill for A Kenneally (56).
RATHMORE: P McCarthy; C Kelly, T O’Sullivan, J O’Sullivan; P Murphy, K Cahill, C O’Sullivan; D O’Sullivan, J Buckley; E Lawlor, Mark Reen, G O’Keeffe; M O’Riordan, B O’Keeffe, J Moynihan.
Subs: P Reen for B O’Keeffe (41); M Reen for E Lawlor (45), B O’Leary for J O’Sullivan (55).
Referee: Mike Brosnan (Spa).
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