Crokes have come of age, says O’Leary

Dr Crokes captain Kieran O’Leary believes the club’s successful defence of their Munster title is largely down to the players’ maturity.

The 25-year-old acknowledged the input of manager Noel O’Leary and his backroom team but feels they have also learned their lessons from previous defeats.

“The lads, Noel, Vince [Casey] and Malachy [Walsh], had pinpointed that we were starting poorly and even towards last year we were finishing poorly. It would have been hard to narrow down why that was.

“We started well [on Sunday] and Daithí Casey kicked a screamer of a point seconds into the game and that settled us straight away. I think we’ve matured as a team. We’re not the young fellas, the sunshine footballers, anymore. We know what it takes to win now after losing so many.

“We know what it’s like to lose Munster finals and it’s bitter but we’re delighted with that win.”

With Tír Chonaill Gaels now occupying their minds for Sunday week’s All-Ireland quarter-final, O’Leary was reluctant to suggest Crokes were issuing a warning to the remaining teams in the competition with their comprehensive win over Castlehaven.

“We scored 16 out of 19 points from play and it’s not about sending out messages but getting rewards for the hard work we’ve been doing the last few weeks.”

O’Leary felt his manager’s decision to give the players the weekend off prior to the Munster final contributed to their display.

“It was 10 weeks in-a row between league and county championship games and what not. We had a weekend off last week. I think it stood to us because we were hopping off the ground.”

O’Leary is wary of the challenge posed by Tír Chonaill Gaels even if Crokes are heavily fancied to advance.

“When we were involved in 2007, we didn’t go to London until after Christmas so we’ll be more cautious now.

“We have to prepare professionally for next weekend [East Kerry final v Rathmore] and the weekend after but we’re looking forward to the games.”


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