KERRY SFC REPLAY:
Austin Stacks v Mid Kerry
"Sick to the back teeth of Crokes".
Austin Stacks chairman Aidan O’Connor puts no finer a point on why the players are extremely motivated to deprive the Killarney club a Munster spot by winning tomorrow’s Kerry final replay against Mid Kerry.
Having lost year’s final to Dr Crokes by 16 points and the 2010 decider by seven, the last thing the Rockies want now is to surrender provincial representation to their Killarney rivals by losing a third final in five seasons.
“Oh my God, it’s so important for that reason for the Stacks to win this,” says O’Connor of the Dr Crokes factor.
“Should the Stacks not do it, it would open the gates for the Crokes by virtue of the fact they won the club championship. It’s of the utmost importance that Stacks win this game to represent Kerry. It’s a huge drive to the squad to get them over the line. They’re certainly sick to the back teeth of the Crokes being so dominant. We’ve beaten South Kerry twice in the previous four years but have twice been beaten by Crokes.”
That they could deny Dr Crokes across from their club grounds in Lewis Road is added incentive. “Wouldn’t it be the icing on the cake?” says O’Connor. “The players would nearly prefer to play it in Killarney because of the space that is there.”
The club will bring 12 busloads of supporters to Fitzgerald Stadium free of charge as their famous brigade of followers once more hope to make their presence felt. But O’Connor is unhappy with the decision by the county board’s competitions control committee to fix the game for Killarney. Prior to the first match in Austin Stack Park, he made his feelings known then about the county final venue.
“It’s just a pleasure that we are at last playing the county final in Tralee, which should always be in Tralee.”
He is adamant no other stadium is as suitable for a county final as Austin Stack Park.
“You would have to be disappointed it’s not in Tralee. I suppose when you look at Killarney, there might be 80% of the stadium that will be empty on Sunday. You lose the atmosphere whereas in Tralee the crowd are on top of the pitch and the atmosphere is incredible.
“The way it’s panning out, Sunday will be just as tight as it was last Sunday. You can’t see any team walking away with it. It’s going down to the death and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s extra-time.
“Our fans will be out in force again. One would have to say the atmosphere our fans create is just phenomenal. They brought the town to a standstill last week. People were coming out of their homes and watching from their doorsteps to look at the parade passing, but it was all done in an orderly fashion.
Aside from bridging a 20-year gap to their last county success, the other incentive for Stacks is providing Kieran Donaghy with the Kerry captaincy. O’Connor makes no attempt to hide his bias.
“He’s the most in-form man in the country at the moment never mind at club level.
“He brings a lot of fear with him right now. A team such as Mid Kerry is showing a lot of respect to him.
“He’s a very dedicated footballer and deserves what he’s getting out of it at the moment.
“From a very young man to where he is today, he’s always been obsessed. I remember the times when you wouldn’t see him in anything but basketball shoes or boots. If he wasn’t on a court, he’d be on a pitch.
“We’re very lucky to have him and I think Kerry would be privileged to have him as captain.
“You look at how he’s made so many young players welcome and become their best friend to ensure they’re as comfortable as possible. Kerry will benefit with him as captain. That’s why it’s vitally important that we win the replay. It’s a 15-man game and he’s just one of them but he has been brilliant for us and it would be a fitting tribute.”
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