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CONFIRMED: Crokes and Legion set for Fitzgerald Stadium showdown

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by Adam Moynihan

December is almost upon us and there has been a noticeable turn in the weather this past week. The nights are icy cold. In the morning the town is coated with a thick layer of white frost.

Yes, there is a very definite chill in the air around the streets and laneways of Killarney - but not all of it is meteorological.

Dr Crokes’ championship exit at the hands of Kerins O’Rahillys has edged them one step closer to the unthinkable. Their failure to reach the county final means that the monumental relegation showdown with bitter rivals Legion will now go ahead, with the date set for the first Sunday of winter (December 5 at noon).

In a town that is utterly obsessed with its football and its famous football clubs, defeat will spell disaster.

For one tribe, this battle could signal the beginning of winter in more ways than one.

FEROCIOUS

The team from Lewis Road could have avoided this playoff had they managed to defeat Rahillys in Sunday’s county semi-final; exemption from relegation is assured to any side who reach the final of the Kerry Senior Football Championship. Leading by six points early in the second half, it looked like they were on their way, but a ferocious fightback by their Tralee opponents turned the tie on its head.

Strand Road came out swinging in that second period and they delivered the knockout blow – quite literally in the case of Crokes keeper Shane Murphy, who was knocked unconscious in a nasty-looking collision in the 47th minute. Somehow the Rahillys player escaped with just a yellow, but more telling for Edmund O’Sullivan’s side was Murphy’s absence for the remainder of the game.

Momentum shifted in their opponents’ favour thereafter and with David Moran bursting into life around the middle and the triumvirate of Keane, Savage and Hayes doing the damage inside, Rahillys secured a narrow one-point victory.

Murphy's availability for the playoff is now one of the biggest talking points ahead of next week's showdown in the Fitzgerald Stadium. The nature of the injury, and the fact that the player has suffered from concussion in the past, has naturally led to questions around whether or not he will be cleared in time to play.

Sunday’s loss was harrowing for Crokes but there were positives too, perhaps most notably the performance of the evergreen Johnny Buckley who dominated the majority of the midfield exchanges. In fact, there was plenty to like about the Killarney side’s first half display with most of their players winning their individual contests.

The manner of the defeat will sting but there's no denying that on their day the Crokes are still a very formidable force.

LEGION’S LAYOFF

Legion are understandably relieved that Crokes missed out on the final, but by the time the playoff comes around they will have been out of action for four weeks, which is hardly ideal. Their form this season has been disappointing by their own standards so they are likely to enter this encounter as underdogs.

That being said, they were underdogs for the 2019 O’Donoghue Cup (East Kerry Championship) final and they gave their old foes a sound beating that day.

Dr Crokes were victorious in the last meeting between the sides: last year's O'Donoghue Cup quarter-final in Derreen, which the visitors won by three points.

The relegation playoff promises to be an intriguing fixture but for now Crokes’ attention turns to the East Kerry Championship. Their semi-final against Rathmore will take place in Kilcummin on Sunday at 2pm.

In the other semi, Spa face Glenflesk on Saturday at 2pm in the Fitzgerald Stadium.

Meanwhile, the county final between Kerins O'Rahillys and Austin Stacks has been fixed for the same day as the playoff (Sunday, December 5) at 3pm. The match will be played in Austin Stack Park in Tralee.

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Lakers add Boahen as Miller returns to Canada

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Scotts Lakers (St Paul’s) have replaced one Canadian with another this week as Division 1 graduate Godwin Boahen replaces the outgoing Ben Miller.

Miller impressed despite the team’s slow start to the season and he will certainly be a loss as he returns to his native country.

However, the club have a ready replacement in former University of Illinois player Boahen. The 5’11” guard from Toronto made his debut against the Panthers last weekend as he and Miller shared minutes in a six-point defeat. Boahen scored 16 points.

“The club would like to wish Ben Miller well as he returns home to his native Canada this week,” an official Lakers statement read. “We would like to acknowledge the impact Ben had on the club through his involvement with the National League senior men’s team and his coaching of the club’s juveniles.

“We would like to thank him most sincerely for his time and effort.”

The Lakers face the Limerick Sport Eagles and the Limerick Celtics at home in December along with an away derby game against the Killarney Cougars at the end of the month.

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Relegation battle has town divided

By Sean Moriarty This is bigger than the county final itself – with the main prize on offer being bragging rights in the town. After an unprecedented run of events during this year’s Kerry Senior Football championship Killarney’s two biggest clubs, Dr Crokes and Killarney Legion are set to face off in a relegation battle […]

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By Sean Moriarty

This is bigger than the county final itself – with the main prize on offer being bragging rights in the town.

After an unprecedented run of events during this year’s Kerry Senior Football championship Killarney’s two biggest clubs, Dr Crokes and Killarney Legion are set to face off in a relegation battle that is sure to divide the town.

In sporting terms, the outcome of the big game, set for December 5, is simple enough. The winner stays in the Senior Championship next season and the losers will have to play in the Intermediate Championship.

Fans of the black and amber or the green and white face an anxious week. Winning the county title is one thing – consigning your cross town rivals to second division football in football is altogether a bigger prize.

Senior officials from both clubs are being very guarded on a potential outcome as both sides know the significance of this play off.

“It is a pity that two Killarney clubs, with a long tradition of playing football in the top tier, find themselves in the position of having to play off to avoid relegation,” Matt O’Neill, Cathaoirleach of Dr Crokes, told the Killarney Advertiser.

“Both teams will fight tooth and nail to stay in the senior ranks. I am confident that on Sunday week our lads will do themselves and the club proud, as always, and give their all in the quest to keep the black and amber to the fore.”

Crokes are based off the Lewis Road with Legion a short distance away on the other side of the bypass.

“Everyone has an opinion on this,” Legion PRO, Elaine O’Donoghue, told the Killarney Advertiser. “Both sides will be nervous – may the best team win. There are a lot of questions, are the Crokes suffering after defeat to Kerins O’Rahillys [in the semi-final]? Are our lads suffering after losing to St Brendan’s for the third year in a row?”

Every football fan will be keeping a close eye on next weekend’s Intermediate County Final too which takes place on December 4.

The winners of the match between Beaufort and Tralee side Na Gael will be automatically promoted to replace the losers of the Killarney play-off in the Senior Championship next season.

Should Beaufort prevail, a (relatively) local team could replace a town team in the top flight.

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