Dr Crokes’ Kieran O’Leary has emerged as an injury doubt for this Sunday’s Kerry SFC final, with fellow forwards David Shaw and Jordan Kiely ruled out of the decider against East Kerry.
Former Kerry forward O’Leary was substituted at half-time during last Sunday’s semi-final replay win over South Kerry because of a jaw injury.
The 32-year-old was due to have an X-ray today to determine the full extent of damage to his jaw.
“We had to take him off because he got a belt to the jaw,” said Crokes selector Niall O’Callaghan following their 1-14 to 1-8 victory over South Kerry.
And although a hand injury forced John Payne ashore late on in the win, management are confident the corner-back will be available for selection for this Sunday’s four in a row bid (Austin Stack Park, 3pm).
The Killarney club are chasing their second four in a row of county titles this decade, but must plan without David Shaw and Jordan Kiely. Hamstring injuries to both players has notably reduced Crokes’ forward options.
Shaw started Crokes’ opening four games of the championship, up to and including the drawn semi-final against South Kerry, kicking 0-13 (five frees) along the way.
Injury forced him out of the action 33 minutes into the drawn semi-final on Sunday week last and he did not feature in the replay.
O’Callaghan confirmed the young forward will be sidelined for between four to six weeks. Jordan Kiely, used off the bench throughout the championship, is facing a similar lay-off.
“We have a very quick turnaround. [There are] a lot of injured bodies, but we are in a county final and that is where we want to be,” O’Callaghan continued.
Sunday’s final will be Crokes’ fourth game in 21 days. Should they manage to complete the four in a row, they will have a Munster semi-final against either Nemo Rangers or Newcastle West to face into the following Sunday, which would be their fifth game in 28 days. If East Kerry, however, are successful in ending the division’s 20-year wait for county glory, then Austin Stacks, who won the Kerry club championship earlier this year, will represent the county in Munster.
Crokes captain Brian Looney has described their busy county championship schedule of late as “tough”.
“We have had three extremely challenging games in a row.
“We had a few points to spare against South Kerry in the replay but, again, it was a very tough game. Similarly, the scoreline flattered us in the Kenmare quarter-final game because it was an unbelievably physically challenging game.
“It’s tough on the body but there is nothing we can do about it. We put ourselves in that position by not getting through the drawn semi-final when we could have, maybe put it to bed a bit earlier. That said, we were lucky in the end to actually get a replay out of it. We are in a county final and we will do what we can to get ourselves rested up this week. It’s been a tough couple of weeks but we are where we want to be.”