Have you heard the one about the club that didn't make their county quarter-finals but could win the province?

Doctoral theses could be devoted to the complexities of the football structure in Kerry but the short version is this: junior and intermediate clubs combine to form regional 'divisional' sides and compete in the senior championship.

One such amalgamation, East Kerry, triumphed in last weekend's county final as young county star David Clifford was instrumental in their title win over Dr Crokes.

East Kerry won three Munster club championships (1965, '68, '70) before it was decided that divisional sides shouldn't be allowed to compete at that level.

In Cork, who also employ divisional teams, the highest finishing club side (in this case Crokes) would go forward to Munster but Kerry nominate the winners of the 'club championship': a separate tournament that is not contested by the divisions.

Enter Austin Stacks, who beat Crokes in the club championship final in April and will now face Nemo Rangers in Sunday's Munster club last four.

"We weren't expecting it but it’s super, we’re delighted with it," says Wayne Quillinan, manager of the Tralee team known as The Rock.

"It was probably only come (county) semi-final stage it was a bit of a reality. With Crokes and three divisional sides left it would have been very difficult for Crokes, as good as they are, to put away two divisional sides and win the Championship."

Wayne Quillinan on the sideline in 2010 during his first spell as Austin Stacks manager

Stacks bowed out of the Kerry championship on 29 September, having been beaten by Dingle and eventual champions East Kerry.

Luckily for Quillinan, they are still in contention for the senior league and, despite taking a few weeks off after the county exit, had resumed training ahead of a likely semi-final meeting with Crokes or Dingle. The usual post-season scramble to book holidays had not yet kicked in.

"After our local championship, where we were very disappointed in our performances, we came together then after three or four weeks off," he said.

"We're in contention for a county league final so we got together once a week, just ticking over. But three weeks ago we kind of started to knuckle down again when there was the possibility of this happening."

As an aside, table toppers Rathmore will contest the league final, though that will be scant consolation after losing their senior status - they were consigned to the SFC relegation play-off based on their club championship performances. Told you it was complicated.

Kieran Donaghy in action against the Nire in the 2014 Munster club SFC final

Stacks are a young team. Quillinan reckons half the side are Under-20s and four players represented Kerry at that grade this year: Dylan Casey, Joe O'Connor, Michael O’Gara and Sean Quilter.

They have a few still knocking around from the crop that won Kerry and Munster in 2014, however, including the Shanahan brothers, Ronan and Barry, and a promising full-forward named Kieran Donaghy.

'Star' is still going strong at the age of 36 and will miss Garvey's Tralee Warriors Super League basketball clash against Maree on Saturday night to ensure he is ready to roll at Pairc Ui Rinn at 1.30pm on Sunday.

"He's the leader of the group," says Quillinan. "Even when he was in the height of his Kerry career he was always a fantastic club man.

"He wears his heart on his sleeve when he has the black and amber on and is still doing the same thing.

"He will be a big part of us trying to get over the line on Sunday."

Luke Connolly takes a free in Nemo Rangers' Munster quarter-final win over Newcastle West

The only game Stacks have played since their Kerry championship exit was a comfortable league win over a raw St Mary's side.

Meeting 16-time Munster champions Nemo next is a daunting step-up but one that Quillinan welcomes, as much for the chance to prove their potential as to set up a shot a shot at a third O'Connor Cup.

"In any circumstances, it would be fantastic to make a Munster final," he says. "It would be great for this young side to get the experience of that type of run.

"It's going to be huge to get the experience of the game Sunday anyway and if you could get over the line there, another day out in Munster would bring us along as a team hugely.

"We would have kept an eye on the Cork county final, and obviously last Sunday when they (Nemo) were playing Newcastlewest.

"But a lot of that we need to do is prove things to ourselves, that we're a lot better than we showed in the championship. We want to put in a performance on Sunday that will give us the belief that we’re going in the right direction.

"This is a way bigger step than anything we have encountered before but it’s a great challenge to have and one you have to embrace," Quillinan added.

Miltown-Malbay of Clare or Tipperary champions Clonmel Commercials will await the winners in the Munster final, but even if Stacks managed to lift the trophy, they wouldn't be the first non-champions to do so.

Dr Crokes won the province in 2006 having lost the county decider to South Kerry and Castleisland Desmonds were Munster champs in 1984 and '85, despite not even making the final won by West Kerry in either year.

In 1984/'85 Desmonds went all the way and were crowned All-Ireland champions.

Stacks will be hoping they can emulate that feat and prove the answer to a trivia question in years to come.

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