It was Darren O’Sullivan’s piercing run up the right wing which set up the goal that killed the game off.
The speedy Glenbeigh/Glencar man missed one or two sitters in the opening half but when he eventually got into his stride he was poetry in motion — beating a succession of defenders as he raced up the right wing. Then he held the ball just long enough before setting up corner-forward Kieran Foley who gave Kieran Cremin in the Dr Crokes goal no chance.
With the game heading into the final quarter the Killarney side now found themselves 1-9 to 0-5 down and when the injured Eoin Brosnan was forced off a few minutes later their hopes were well and truly lost.
Colm Cooper, who played the first half at centre-forward, assumed the more threatening full-forward role after half time but he had to contend with the attentions of two and at times three markers. This minimised his contribution to three points and just two from play.
Mid Kerry were physically stronger and more motivated with wing-back Fergal Griffin, scorer of two magnificent points, driving them on. In attack Sean O’Sullivan and Kieran Foley were a constant threat.
In the end, however, it was Darren O’Sullivan who made the big impact with the run that created Foley’s goal and then he might have scored a goal himself with another run that took him to the edge of the square where he was brought down with a rugby-tackle. The ball fell from his grasp and when Donncha Walsh first-timed it over the bar referee Ger Lynch played the advantage.
Mid Kerry manager James Sheahan pointed out afterwards that with players involved in important intermediate and junior games the previous weekend he had just a few training sessions with his players.
He was also keen to play down the performance, declaring: “You will probably make us favourites for the championship and I will have to get those thoughts out of their heads,” he said. “We still have a quarter-final to play.”
Scorers for Mid Kerry: K. Foley 1-3, S. O’Sullivan 0-4 (0-1 free), D. O’Sullivan 0-3 (0-2 frees), F. Griffin 0-2, M. Burke and D. Walsh 0-1 each.
Scorers for Dr Crokes: C. Cooper 0-3 (0-1 free), J. Doolan (free), J. Buckley, G. Tucker, J. Fleming, S. Doolan 0-1 each.
MID KERRY: M. Moriarty (Beaufort); A. Cahillane (Keel), D. Murphy (Milltown/Castlemaine), Joe. McGillycuddy (Glenbeigh/Glencar); M. Burke (Milltown/Castlemaine), A. O’Shea (Glenbeigh/Glencar); G. Sayers (Keel), D. O’Sullivan (Glenbeigh/Glencar), Sean O’Sullivan (Cromane); Donal Kelliher (Milltown/Castlemaine), D. Walsh (Cromane), K. Foley (Keel). Subs: L. Sheehan (Keel) for D. Kelliher (49 mins), S. Murphy (Milltown/Castlemaine) for G. Sayers 952 mins), E. O’Malley (Beaufort) for J. McGillycuddy (56 mins), D. Breen (Beaufort) for M. Burke (58 mins), I. Twiss (Milltown/Castlemaine) for K. Foley (61 mins).
DR CROKES: K. Cremin; K. McMahon, M. Moloney, J. Payne; L. Quinn, B. McMahon, G. Tucker; E. Brosnan, J. Buckley; E. Kavanagh, D. Casey, B. Looney; J. Doolan, S. Doolan, C. Cooper. Subs., B. Moriarty for K. McMahon (32 mins), J. Fleming for E. Kavanagh (H.T.), B. O’Connell for E. Brosnan (injured 44 mins).
Referee: Ger Lynch (Ballymacelligott).