It means Crokes cannot represent Kerry in the provincial club series this year, with Rathmore, Legion, and Club champions Dingle the only sides that can do so at this point.
Two opportunistic first-half goals for Rathmore were the key to their success as they punished some very poor Crokes defending on the day. The first goal came in the 7th minute as Rathmore full- forward John Moynihan took advantage of a defensive mix-up between Crokes midfielder Ambrose O’Donovan and goalkeeper Alan Kelly to palm the ball into the net for a 1-2 to 0-1 lead.
The second goal came from similar defensive frailties as 17-year-old Dean Fitzgerald fired the ball into the net in the 28th minute for a 2-8 to 0-9 lead for Rathmore at half-time.
It meant that Crokes were always chasing the game and couldn’t find the drive to turn matters around. An ankle injury for Aidan O’Mahony appeared to be a setback for the East Kerry side but the five-time All-Ireland medal winner with Kerry soldiered on through the pain as his former inter-county team-mate and clubmate Tom O’Sullivan kept tabs on Colm Cooper throughout.
Cooper was not his laser-like best on the day, spurning two good goal-scoring chances for the Killarney side in the second half.
Crokes did find the back of the net through Daithi Casey in the 44th minute to bring the match back to 2-11 to 1-12. The goal came after a good move involving Johnny Buckley and substitute Gavin O’Shea in the build-up.
The expected Crokes surge did not materialise, however, with Rathmore showing great capacity and composure to see the match out, something that had been lacking for them in previous encounters with Crokes.
Former Kerry minor goalkeeper Padraic McCarthy came up the field in the 50th minute to point a crucial 40m free for Rathmore that settled them after a scoreless 13 minutes. Substitute George O’Keeffe made a great individual run to start a closing sequence of three successive points that saw Rathmore over the linee.
They will approach their semi-final with East Kerry rivals Legion full of confidence.
D Fitzgerald (1-2), B O’Keeffe (0-5, 4 frees), E Lawlor (0-4, 2 frees), J Moynihan (1-0), P Murphy (0-2), P McCarthy (0-1, 1f) and G O’Keeffe (0-1)
D Casey (1-1), C Cooper (0-4, 3 frees), A O’Sullivan and T Brosnan (0-2 each), B Looney (0-1, free) and C Brady (0-1).
P McCarthy; C Jenkins, T O’Sullivan, J O’Sullivan; C O’Sullivan, C Murphy, P Murphy; A O’Mahony, D O’Sullivan; B O’Keeffe, TJ Friel, D O’Sullivan; E Lawlor, J Moynihan, D Fitzgerald.
G O’Keeffe for Moynihan (43); B Moynihan for D O’Sullivan (48) and M Riordan for C O’Sullivan (57)
A Kelly; J Pyne, E Brosnan, M Moloney; G White, F Fitzgerald, D O’Leary; A O’Donovan, J Buckley; A O’Sullivan, D Casey, B Looney; C Cooper, C Brady, J Kiely.
M Milner for O’Donovan (28), J Doolan for Kiely (half-time), C Fitzgerald for Moloney and G O’Shea for Looney (33) and S Myers for O’Leary (52)
P O’Sullivan (Firies)