Brosnan: Crokes now a stronger force

The proof will come on Saturday but Eoin Brosnan is confident Dr Crokes are better prepared for this All-Ireland semi-final than those in the last two years.

Brosnan: Crokes now a stronger force

The Kerry and Munster champions face Castlebar Mitchels on Saturday at the same Portlaoise venue they lost to Crossmaglen in 2012.

Last year it was Ballymun Kickhams who gave them the February blues in Thurles, but Brosnan is confident former Kerry trainer Pat Flanagan’s expertise will have them in finer fettle.

“I remember everyone had a bit of a review after the Ballymun game. There was two points — one was that we were shattered come the Christmas and took a break, the other thing was that Ballymun blew us away in the physical stakes.

The management and the club took that on board, they brought in Pat Flanagan and we’ve done a lot of strength and conditioning over the last year. We’d hope we’re bearing the fruits of it now.

“There was no over-training in the autumn and early winter because Pat was checking us for fatigue in every single training and we were given weeks off where we barely put on boots.

“So come the Christmas time, I know fellas felt a lot fresher. Over Christmas we trained in the Back Strand in Rossbeigh Beach, just to keep fresh.”

Emulating Crokes’ 1992 All-Ireland winners remains the target of Noel O’Leary and Vince Casey’s men but Brosnan dismisses the suggestion they have been consumed by that target.

“It is not an obsession but it’s certainly a goal. There are certain goals; the first one is to win your county and then win your provincial and you try and win the All-Ireland. We’ve failed on the latter thus far.

“We think we’ve done a few things differently this year and we’d be hoping we’ll get the benefits of our experience over the last couple of years and we’d be able to bring something different to the table on the 15th.”

As more Crokes players catch the eye of Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice, Brosnan admits the club are heading in a good direction. Dáithí Casey has become the latest to join the county panel.

“A lot of the younger fellas, we’ve been lucky enough in that they’ve broken into the Kerry set-up. The likes of Fionn Fitzgerald has been a super player, he had a super year last year, Johnny Buckley had a super year and Dáithí Casey was involved a few years ago.

“He probably he might have been brought in a little bit earlier. He’s had to find his feet and he’s been a super player for us last year. He’s involved in the Kerry set-up at the moment.

“Then you have the likes of Michael Moloney, he’s our captain who’s playing good football at the minute. Again, he’s kind of forced his way back into contention now. A lot of them would be well known already.”

Colm Cooper is naturally their marquee player but he has alternated with Kieran O’Leary as a playmaker and target man. Brosnan says there’s been more of a co-dependency in the side than a reliance on the Kerry captain.

“There’s no doubting anybody, you saw in our Kerry championship and Munster club games that Colm is only a cog in the forwards.

“He’s obviously a super, super footballer but the likes of Kieran O’Leary is playing great football, Brian Looney is playing good football as is Daithi Casey. It’s very, very easy for a team to go out and mark one man. But if one fella gets closed up or whatever, the other fellas will be able to step up to the plate, and we’re lucky enough and fortunate enough that we’re able to bring that to the table.”

Meanwhile Jamie Doolin is ruled out of the game as he recovers from a toe injury.

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