It was 1987, when Nemo Rangers provided the opposition in the semi-final at Ballinlough, and the Cork side won comfortably.
Crokes coach Pat O’Shea will be hoping for a better result tomorrow when he takes Crokes back to Cork to play Nemo — again at the Munster semi-final stage, though this time at Pairc Uí Chaoimh (throw-in 2.45pm). Though he’s been linked to the Kerry manager’s job, O’Shea’s full attention this weekend is on the Munster
“Our last visit wasn’t a very pleasant one. I’m probably the only link between the 1987 team and the present one,’’ he said.
“We had a good team then, or so we thought, but Nemo gave us a bit of a trimming with a team that included Steven O’Brien, Shay Fahy and Denis Allen, while we had Connie Murphy and myself in our side.
“Since then we have developed a very good relationship with Nemo and at least once a year get together for a challenge game. We met earlier this year in a challenge game, last year in the Munster Club league which Nemo won, but tomorrow is far more serious.”
Crokes lost the Kerry final to South Kerry, a defeat that took its toll.
“Losing the county final put a bit of a damper on things for us. We had high hopes of victory but came up that bit short, and it was difficult to get back into the swing of things.
“However, last Sunday we played a county league game and from talking to the players you could sense they were looking forward to this challenge. Nemo are the aristocrats of the club scene and it’s going to be a new experience for our lads.
“This the most prestigious championship at club level and it would be a tremendous fillip for us if we were to beat the defending champions and then go on to take the Munster title. Players get few opportunities to play at this level with your club. This is our first outing since 1993, when we lost to Skibbereen, and most of today’s team wouldn’t have been involved then.
“For the likes of Colm Cooper and Eoin Brosnan who have seen it all at county level, this is their first taste of club championship football and tomorrow will be a unique occasion for them.”
Defending champions Nemo were bitterly disappointed at going out to St. Galls of Antrim in last year’s All-Ireland semi-final; they never got going that day and are keen to get back and make amends.
Since then they have lost the services of four very experienced players in Alan Cronin, Gearoid O’Shea, Niall Geary and David Niblock for a variety of reasons, though they’re keeping their fingers crossed that the latter can get back from the States in time to play.
On the credit side, Brian O’Regan and Mick Daly have returned after missing out most of the season from being out of the country, and team coach Ephie Fitzgerald — who played on that 1987 side against Crokes, is quietly confident the panel of players he has at his disposal, are more than capable of winning.
“Naturally I would prefer to be picking from a full squad, but the loss of the four players affords others the chance to show what they can do, and who ever is chosen to start, they won’t let the side down.
“There isn’t any great history between us in the Club championship, but this is Kerry versus Cork and you know what that means.
“Neither side will want to bow the knee to the other, consequently it should be a great game. Both teams love to play football and there are a lot of similarities between us.”
Pat O’Shea feels Pairc Uí Chaoimh will suit his team. “Our style of play is moving the ball at pace and every player on the move.
“While I accept Nemo will be the favourites because of their experience and tradition at this level, I feel if we can get a good start we’ll there at the finish.”