Crokes play fast up front, calm at the back
The defending champions wasted no time looking to hurt Dingle and Colm Cooper was at the heart of their attacking thrust. After making use of the strong wind to land two long-range points, Crokes used their speed to break Dingle’s last line. Cooper, who had created Brian Looney’s point on 5 minutes, turned provider again for the first goal of the afternoon. With Dingle’s defenders out of position after a free was awarded, Cooper took it quickly and found an unmarked Chris Brady. With acres of room in front of him, Brady found the net with ease on 6 minutes. Within a minute Crokes had their second major and once again Cooper had a hand in it. Looney, whose runs hurt Dingle throughout the day, played a one-two with the Kerry captain before firing home to put Crokes well on top.
While speed was the order of the day up front, Dr Crokes played a calm possession-oriented game at the back. Shane Myers was excellent in mop-up duty as the backs stayed deep to slow the Dingle attack. In slippery conditions the Killarney club made few handling errors although there was one notable exception. A mess-up at the back nearly gave Dingle a goal chance but possession was eventually retained and the threat was averted.
Slow and steady won’t win this race
Dingle’s attack came out with a clear plan to break down Dr Crokes through the first half. High and direct balls into the Crokes’ box was the order of the day and this approach led to several scoring chances. Indeed balls into this area led to all five of Dingle’s scores in the opening half. While accuracy was an issue, the tactic was intelligent and got the type of reward Dingle would have been happy with were it not for their failings at the other end of the field.
Playing in their first county final since 1951, Dingle’s defence looked wholly unprepared for either the conditions or the speed of Dr Crokes’ forwards. Both goals saw players miss assignments and the Killarney club reaped maximum benefit from the space available. After that initial flurry, which opened up a 2-4 to 0-2 lead for Dr Crokes, Dingle made changes in their defence. More men were brought back and they eventually started pushing Crokes out wide. As a result, the Dingle defence held Dr Crokes without a score for 19 minutes and gave up just 4 scoring chances during this spell. The gap at the break however was still 7 points and the defending champions never looked in danger.
Taking the wind out of the game
With the elements favouring Dingle after the break, Crokes made adjustments in order to prevent the challengers from threatening. The chief focus of the forwards became on slowing Dingle’s moves out of defence, effectively removing the wind as a factor. With ball slow to get to the Dingle forwards, Crokes had ample time to drop back and cover ensuing attacks. With their defence already well on top, the extra support in choking out the supply lines made life easy for the Dr Crokes’ backs.
When in possession the defending champions played a much slower game than that with which they opened the game. Patience was the order of the day as the Killarney club looked to hold onto the ball until a good option was available. Aside from Looney’s score on 35 minutes, where he once again made use of his pace on the wing, all of Crokes scores after the break came after calm passing moves. There was no need to rush matters with a big lead and Crokes made the best use of the possession they had to widen the margin late.
Dingle run out of ideas
Dingle’s three Geaneys. Mikey, Paull, and David, were essentially the entirety of their attack but they lacked the inter-play or invention to make a game of this match. Paul Geaney was the most effective near goal but once Dingle lost the possession battle, they were unable to target him with direct balls for the second half. His lone score of the half came off a turnover by Cooper. Dingle broke at speed and Geaney finished the move with a point.
The peninsula club eventually tried to shoot more from distance as the second half wore on, with Mikey Geaney trying to use the wind to his advantage, but too many of their shots were rushed or forced. With goals needed to get back into contention, Dingle’s attack became predictable. Crokes brought in fresh legs to close the game out and cruise to an easy victory.
The damage was done early and Dingle, playing at this stage for the first time in 61 years, just didn’t know how to respond. While they eventually got their defence in gear, they couldn’t find a way to amend their attacking plan to accelerate the fight-back. This gifted Dr Crokes with time to recover from a lengthy run without scoring and close the game out comfortably.
Dr Crokes for their part have bigger goals in mind than this title. Once again Cooper played a more creative role than he is given within the Kerry county set-up. Cooper orchestrated an attack last year that came close to knocking off Crossmaglen in the All-Ireland Semi-Final. This year he has more weapons to work with and the Killarney club will be heavily favoured throughout the provincial campaign. Whether they have advanced enough to claim the Andy Merrigan Cup is another matter. With stiffer tests ahead, Crokes promise to be one of the more interesting stories of the winter months.
Tactics not Passion: The book
Tactics not Passion, the book, is now available to order. The book tells the story a year in tactics from Sam to Sam and features an extensive look at developments with the Kerry Football team. Order your copy here.
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