O’Leary impresses as Dr Crokes advance

THIS clash of the titans may have failed to deliver on the pre-match hype, but few in Killarney will be complaining after Dr Crokes defeated West Kerry in Saturday’s Kerry SFC quarter-final at Austin Stack Park (1-8 to 0-5).

Amazingly, victory was achieved without a scoring contribution from Colm Cooper, who was well marshalled by county colleague Marc O Sé. However Cooper’s influence was still immense with a masterclass in distribution and leadership, especially in the second half.

Instead the Dr Crokes’ scoring threat fell to the impressive Kieran O’Leary, who banged home a rasping goal in just the third minute, handing the club side a lead they never relinquished. In a tight and far from eye-catching first half, O’Leary scored 1-2 of the Crokes’ total, with Johnny Buckley kicking their only other score as they led 1-3 to 0-4 at the break.

Seán M O Conchúir, Neil Sheehy and Alan Fitzgerald were all on the mark for West Kerry in the opening 30 minutes.

All eyes were on Johnny Buckley as he went toe-to-toe with former Kerry midfield general Darragh O Sé. While Buckley had the legs on O Sé, the six-time All-Ireland winner turned in a powerful second half performance to put the youngster into the shadows.

Ultimately the lack of a killer punch in attack cost the divisional side dearly. One point from Aodán MacGearailt in the second half tells its own sorry tale of how West Kerry couldn’t trouble a superb Dr Crokes’ rearguard of John Payne, Mike Moloney and David O’Leary, outside the impressive Kieran Cremin.

As the second half progressed, Eoin Brosnan, Brian Looney (0-2), Dáithí Casey and Niall O’Connell all found their range as, in the end, the Killarney side eased to a six-point win.

Champions South Kerry impressed in their demolition of Kilcummin (1-14 to 0-8) in the first of yesterday’s quarter-finals at Fitzgerald Stadium

South Kerry led 1-11 to 0-1 at the break – Kilcummin’s point coming from captain Shane McSweeney in injury time. The second half was more lively, with Kilcummin improving thanks to the introduction of John McCarthy and Daniel O’Leary.

While claiming the first three scores on the second period, Kilcummin spurned two goal chances in an eight-minute period. Firstly, South Kerry goalkeeper Liam Sheehan saved a penalty from his opposite number, Brendan Kealy, and then the referee stepped in to give a free out after Jamie O’Sullivan put the ball in the net.

After that, there was never any likelihood of them breaking the South Kerry dominance, with the recalled Ronan Hussey excelling in attack alongside Bryan Sheehan.

Kieran Donaghy scored just two points but the Kerry star inspired Austin Stacks to victory over Rathmore (1-13 to 1-5) in Fitzgerald Stadium in the second tie of yesterday’s doubleheader.

Rathmore impressed in the opening half, gaining confidence from a Brian O’Leary goal after 25 seconds. They made most of the running until Stacks hit back through a Dara Long goal, set up by Donaghy when he outfielded Tom O’Sullivan.

The teams were level in the 21st minute before a John Moynihan score gave Rathmore a 1-5 to 1-4 interval lead, but after Long levelled scores again, Donaghy regained the lead for the Tralee side with a magnificent score. Gradually they got on top in key areas, with TJ Hogan playing a captain’s part and Rathmore simply could not match Stack’s scoring power.


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