Killarney side Dr Crokes, host the Clare county champions Kilmurray-Ibrickane in the semi final of the Munster club championship, at Fitzgerald Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The home team will be a very warm order to progress to the final and it will be a major surprise were they to fall at this hurdle. Crokes were impressive winners of their county title, defeating Mid Kerry in the decider and easily accounted for Waterford champions Ballinacourty in the quarter final. The Killarney side feel that they have unfinished business in the competition this season,having failed to show their true potential in the final against Nemo Rangers last season. With the Cork club already out of the series, Crokes will fancy their chances of at least taking the provincial crown.
Kerry star Colm Cooper has delayed a much needed operation in order to play through the pain barrier and assist his club. County colleagues Eoin Brosnan, Kieran O’Leary, Daithi Casey and Johnny Buckley form the backbone of a hugely talented Crokes outfit. On their day, the men in black and yellow are a match for any side in the country and they are already one of the favourites to go all the way this year.
Kilmurray-Ibrickane are no back number in this competition and went as far as the All Ireland final in 2010. The Clare side are a tough, physical side and will make it difficult for Crokes to play their natural game this weekend. The club have been the dominant force in the Banner county over the last few years and had an effortless victory in their own county championship. A 0-17 to 0-5 win over St Joseph’s Doora-Barefield hardly did the side justice. They were far superior to their opponents on the day and could have won by an even larger score. While they have yet to play outside their own county this season, the fact that they have not had an outing in the provincial series is unlikely to prove a huge drawback. The club won the title in 2009 and have vast experience at this stage of the competition.
Despite the pedigree of the Clare men, it is difficult to envisage an upset on Sunday. Crokes have the superior firepower upfront and if they are allowed build up a head of steam they could take some beating. The best hope for their opponents is to disrupt the Crokes short passing game and get in their faces. However, as most teams have discovered in 2011, this is easier said than done. A confident vote goes to the Kerry side to progress to the decider.