Dr Crokes made sure of their senior status with a 13-point victory over Killarney rivals Legion in the Kerry senior relegation playoff at Fitzgerald Stadium on Sunday lunchtime.
Legion’s cause was not helped by second-half dismissals of both Jonathan Lyne, a second yellow in the 34th minute, and James O’Donoghue, who received a straight red card nine minutes later following an incident with Fionn Fitzgerald, meaning they finished the game with 13.
“It is what it is and both clubs unfortunately found themselves in this situation,” said Legion manager Stephen Stack. “It’s the same for everyone.
“We were in a very tough group in the Club Championship and I am very disappointed for the lads because they are a great group to be involved with. Killarney Legion are a very big club and I had a great management committee and I am really gutted for everyone involved.
“It’s a disappointing day but I am sure the lads will regroup again as it's too big a club to be down for too long.”
Dr Crokes mentor Eoin Brosnan said: “It was a potential banana skin that we would rather not have been playing.
“But the lads got over the disappointment of losing to O'Rahillys and got back to winning last week against Rathmore so they were in the right frame of mind for today and we put in a good performance. They showed form and carried into today.
“Crokes need to be a senior club and we took no pleasure in our win over local rivals today.”
Crokes just had too many scoring options when it mattered. Although Tony Brosnan put over the first two points of the game, Legion struck for a goal in the eighth minute when Padraig Lucey found Conor Keane who put the ball past Crokes’ stand-in goalkeeper Brendan Falvey.
It enabled them to have a lead of 1-3 to 0-4 at the first water break as James O’Donoghue hit 0-4 (1f) for his side in the first period.
Crokes scored the final four points of the first half to take a lead of 0-11 to 1-5 at half-time.
Brian Looney beat Brian Kelly for a 40th-minute goal and at 1-14 to 1-7 ahead, Crokes never looked back.
Mark O’Shea ran through to allow substitute Tom Doyle score their second goal in the 58th minute as Jordan Kiely also impressed off the bench for Crokes.
They have one final match for the year when they play the other Killarney-based side, Spa, in the 2020 O’Donoghue Cup (East Kerry SFC) final next Sunday at Fitzgerald Stadium.
Legion’s loss means they return to Intermediate level for the first time since 2005, while their players will be eligible to play for East Kerry at SFC level.
A Kerry SFC review committee may yet save them from relegation, however, depending on their report which is due to be published early in the new year.
T Brosnan (0-7, 2f), B Looney (1-1), T Doyle (1-0), M Burns (0-3), G O’Shea and J Kiely (0-2 each), D Shaw, G White and D Casey (0-1).
J O’Donoghue (0-5, 2f), C Keane (1-0), R O’Grady (0-2, 1f), C Gammell (0-1).
B Falvey; J Payne, D Naughton, F Fitzgerald; M Cooper, G White, E Looney; M O’Shea, J Buckley; G O’Shea, M Burns, B Looney; T Brosnan, D Shaw, K O’Leary.
J Kiely for K O’Leary (38), D Casey for J Buckley (48), T Doyle for G O’Shea (52), M Potts for M Burns (52), M Moloney for D Shaw (54).
B Kelly; D O’Sullivan, D Sheahan, C Gammell; D Lyne, J Lyne, K Slattery; J O’Neill, C Keane; E O’Sullivan, C Keane, W Shine; R O’Grady, P Lucey, J O’Donoghue.
P O’Sullivan for W Shine (38), J O’Sullivan for P Lucey, C Davies for D O’Sullivan (both 44), R Leen for J O’Neill (53), D Sheahan for R O’Grady (59).
S Mulvihill (St Senan's).