The Killarney club found themselves faced with a defensive East Kerry outfit, a tactic that served the divisional side well for most of the first-half, but ultimately limited their attacking options.
Of concern to the winners was a serious injury sustained by Fionn Fitzgerald in the 30th minute. The corner back was concussed following a challenge by Damien Dennehy which necessitated his removal from the pitch by stretcher and resulted in a booking for the East Kerry substitute.
Dr Crokes began brightest and had two points on the board in as many minutes. The first came direct from the throw-in when midfielder Johnny Buckley gathered possession and advanced to the 45-metre line before unleashing a perfect drive over the bar. Colm Cooper doubled their advantage when he finished off a flowing move with three minutes on the clock.
East Kerry then struck for a goal courtesy of Jack Sherwood. The Firies man shrugged off two challengers before finishing smartly past David Moloney.
Three points on the trot from Spa’s Michael O’Donoghue — two from frees — left East Kerry in a commanding position 10 minutes in, leading 1-3 to 0-2.
That early goal shocked Crokes and they monopolised the scoreboard for the next 10 minutes. Points from Brian Looney, Johnny Buckley, Colm Cooper and a Kieran O’Leary goal saw them race into a 1-6 to 1-3 lead.
Back came East Kerry with two points — Michael O’Donoghue and Colm O’Shea on target — before four points on the trot from Andrew Kenneally, Ambrose O’Donovan, Luke Quinn and Daithí Casey saw Crokes leading by 1-10 to 1-5 at the break. The second-half was not near as entertaining as the first as both sides seemed intent to slog it out until the final whistle.
Dr Crokes were content to take their scores when they presented themselves while East Kerry never threatened to eat in their opponent’s lead. The second period saw Crokes outscore East Kerry by 0-5 to 0-4.
Daithí Casey, the impressive Brian Looney (2), Jamie Doolan and Colm Cooper scored their second-half points while Jeff O’Donoghue (2), Niall O’Mahony, and Mike Daly added to East Kerry’s total.
Scorers for Dr Crokes: B Looney (0-4, 0-2 45s), C Cooper (0-3, 0-2 frees) K O’Leary (1-0), D Casey (0-2 frees), J Buckley (0-2), A Kenneally (0-1), J Doolan (0-1), A O’Donovan (0-1) L Quinn (0-1).
Scorers for East Kerry: M O’Donoghue (0-4, 0-3 frees), J Sherwood (1-0), J O’Donoghue (0-2, 0-1 frees), N O’Mahony (0-1), C O’Shea (0-1), M Daly (0-1).
DR CROKES: D Moloney; J Payne, M Moloney, F Fitzgerald; S Doolan, L Quinn, S Myers; A O’Donovan, J Buckley; A Kenneally, K O’Leary (capt), B Looney; C Cooper, D Casey, J Doolan.
Subs: K Ward for S Myers (31), C Brady for K O’Leary (ht), G O’Shea for D Casey (51), B Falvey for A Kenneally (61).
EAST KERRY: C Myers; D Wrenn, B Russell, M Culloty; E Cronin, Damien O’Sullivan, J Sherwood; A Garnet, J O’Leary; N O’Mahony, C O’Shea, A Giles; D Aherne, Michael O’Donoghue, Jeff O’Donoghue.
Subs: D Dennehy for E Cronin (20), S Lynch for D Dennehy (35), M Daly for C O’Shea (42), A Sweeney for J O’Donoghue (54).
Referee: P Hayes (Kerins O’Rahilly’s).