Dr Crokes selector Vince Casey isn’t surprised that the club is in a seventh Kerry county final this decade. Such was the ending of their 2017 campaign that redemption was always going to be chased ferociously.
Last November’s 0-16 to 0-11 Munster final defeat to Nemo Rangers ended Crokes’ reign as provincial and All-Ireland club champions.
It was also their first championship defeat since October 2015. Back they’ve come, marching into an eighth county final in 10 years, with an average winning margin of 13 points from their last three outings.
“After the Nemo game, it would have been easy, and justifiable, if some of the players said, ‘we have done enough, we’ve done our time, this is the end of the road’.
But it says a lot that they wanted to come back. They didn’t want to be remembered for getting well-beaten and not performing against Nemo. They’ve worked hard and are back where they want to be,” Casey remarked.
“I couldn’t speak highly enough about them as individuals. They have carried themselves, both on and off the pitch, exceptionally well and have represented Crokes incredibly over the last 15 years.
"They are terribly committed and have a huge appetite for success.”
Six of the last eight county championships have finished with Crokes as champions, including the last two.
There have also been four Munster club titles during this period. Not forgetting, of course, their annexation of the Andy Merrigan Cup, in March 2017. For all the silverware, though, complacency has never been an issue.
“The players are keenly aware of the history of this club. Prior to 1991, we hadn’t won a county since 1914. We don’t need to remind them of that.
"The likes of Colm Cooper and Eoin Brosnan, they have been phenomenal leaders throughout the last 15 years. Behind them, then, you have Brian Looney, Kieran O’Leary, John Payne, and Mike Moloney.
"There is another group behind them, the likes of Johnny Buckley, Daithí Casey, Fionn Fitzgerald, and David O’Leary. None of these lads ever take anything for granted.”
Casey was joint-manager for the Kerry/Munster double in 2012 and 2013, rejoining the set-up earlier this year.
Going back in under a Pat O’Shea-led management was an easy decision.
"Going back to the 1991 All-Ireland, he put a coaching structure in place. We got a lot of that team involved in coaching.
"There have been lots of people involved, but Pat has been the leader and is responsible for putting it all in place for the club to be successful.”