Two of the biggest and most successful club sides in Kerry football come face to face this Sunday, when Dr Crokes and Austin Stacks meet in the quarter finals of the County Championship. The former go into the game as hot favourites, despite losing out to Rathmore in the club championship last weekend.
Crokes have been one of the most successful club sides in the recent history of the championship, and Harry O’Neill’s side have a number of Kerry senior stars in their ranks. Colm Cooper missed last Saturday’s defeat due to injury, but makes a welcome return for this tie. Kieren O’Leary, Eoin Brosnan, Johnny Buckley, Ambrose O’Donovan and Daithi Casey are others that Crokes supporters will be looking to this weekend.
Last weekend’s defeat could be the incentive that the Killarney outfit needed ahead of this match, and speaking to The Kerryman in midweek, O’Neill was adamant that it would not be a factor:
“There was nothing to do with complacency the last day. Now whether it’s a kick in the backside… you can look at it that way. Put it this way it’ll open our guys’ eyes to the intensity of championship football and the realisation that when they’re in control of games that they’ll have to keep working to stay in control of games.
“From our point of view there’s a lot of stuff – both positive and negative – to work on going into the game. That’s a good place to be in rather than going into a game… I mean if we’d won the last day comfortably, stayed the nine points up and breezed through it you could get a very false perspective on where you are and from that point of view it was a great dress rehearsal for us heading into a county championship game and people would say it was an eye opener for us anyway.”
Austin Stacks will be out to prove a point, having lost heavily to Crokes in last year’s decider. They welcome Daniel Bohan back this weekend, and also have senior star Kieran Donaghy in their ranks.
Manager Wayne McQuillan is confident that his team have learned from 2010 and will be much closer this time round:
“I think we’re well prepared and I think we’re ready. The only thing I don’t think we fulfilled in the county final was our potential. We didn’t play to our potential and that’s what we’re hoping to do this Sunday. We’re concentrating more on ourselves this year. That’s a difference between this year and 2010”.
In what has the potential to be one of the ties of the championship to date, if both sides bring their “a” game to the table, supporters could be in for a fantastic contest. Crokes are the defending champions, and until they are beaten they remain the side that everyone has to topple. For that reason alone they get the verdict to win this game and advance to the final four