Austin Stacks and Dr Crokes will meet in the Kerry Club SFC final on Sunday next after topping their groups.
Dr Crokes were treading a tightrope between progress and relegation on Saturday night in Tralee, but they did the needful with a 1-18 to 1-14 win over Kerins O Rahilly’s to eventually top Group 1.
In the same group, Killarney Legion defeated Rathmore to finish level with Crokes, though they lose out on the head to head rule.
Rathmore now find themselves in a relegation battle to avoid dropping to intermediate grade next year but that game against Kilcummin cannot be played until both sides exit the SFC.
Kerins O Rahilly’s started well against Crokes and led 0-8 to 1-2 midway through the opening half with Jordan Kiely getting the Crokes goal but seven unanswered points from Crokes in the final 10 minutes of the half — with Tony Brosnan kicking some fine scores — had Crokes 1-9 to 0-8 in front at half-time.
Crokes were always in control in the second half, matching any score that O’Rahilly’s got with Gearóid Savage kicking three good points for the Tralee side while Barry John Keane got their goal. But it was never going to be enough.
Victory came at a cost to Crokes as they lost Kerry star Gavin White with a worrying looking shoulder injury midway through the half.
Daithí Casey had the luxury of tapping a penalty over the bar in the final minute to ensure a four-point gap and no late O’Rahilly’s goal could deny Crokes their final spot.
Legion had a tough opening half with Rathmore, trailing 0-7 to 0-6 at half-time, but they took over completely in the second half with Chrissy Spiers and Anthony Darmody getting Rathmore’s only second-half scores. Legion cut loose thanks to goals from Conor Keane and Tom Moriarty in the 40th and 42nd minutes which killed the game off.
Keane with three points and James O’Donoghue with two saw Legion win by nine points but their loss to Crokes in the opening round cost them a final spot.
In Group 1, it was much more straightforward as Austin Stacks made it three wins from three to top their group, beating Kenmare Shamrocks 1-16 to 0-12 in a game where both sides had a man sent off with Kieran Donaghy receiving a second yellow in the second half for Stacks.
Stacks led 0-10 to 0-4 at half-time with points from Sean Quilter, Greg Horan, Shane O’Callaghan, Kieran Donaghy, and Darragh O’Brien.
Sean O’Shea did his best for Kenmare, scoring nine points of their total, but three more points for Quilter and a brace for Shane O’Callaghan, plus a late goal from substitute Michael O’Gara, put the icing on the Stacks cake.
Meanwhile, Dingle beat Kilcummin by 3-16 to 2-6 in a game that was over at the interval with Dingle 1-11 to 0-5 in front. Dingle remain in the senior championship but All-Ireland Intermediate champions Kilcummin could possibly make a quick return to the intermediate ranks in 2020.