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Cork can upset the odds

Wednesday, 20th June, 2018 4:42pm

Munster Football Final

12 months later than planned, the very first Munster Final takes place in the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh as Cork bid to deny Kerry a sixth successive title.

Ahead of this eagerly awaited tie, manager Ronan McCarthy said they are ready and looking forward to the challenge. “We have had four weeks uninterrupted since the win over Tipperary, and while we have a few niggling little injuries, everything has gone as planned.”

Ronan also said this day is just another step in the process: “I can safely say that since we got together all of six months ago, we have not had a bad training session and all the players have bought into what we are doing and that is the ideal situation to be in.”

The manager, though, is well aware of the task ahead: “Kerry are Kerry, they will be just as well prepared as us, and they would like nothing better to win the first Munster final in the (new) Páirc.”

Both sides come into the game on the back of facile semi-final wins in which they will have learned very little - Kerry racked up 30 points in their demolition of Clare who were somewhat naive their approach.

As for Cork, very few felt they would beat Tipperary in Thurles, but the manner of the win will have pleased the management. They set about their task with minimum of fuss and had the job done by half-time.

The only downside was the injury to Colm O’Neill but at least he has made a sufficient recovery to make the bench, and with Brian Hurley, Paul Kerrigan and Brian O’Driscoll joining him, there's a good few options there.

Sam Ryan is the only debutant but his inclusion has resulted in a number of positional switches; Kevin Crowley moves to the half-back line, Sean White moves to the half-forward line while Mark Collins is now in a full-forward line that contains Luke Connolly, in outstanding form, and John O’Rourke.

Many feel that the Kingdom defence is vulnerable and hopefully Cork can prove that to be the case, and while O’Neill is a loss, there is enough to trouble Kerry, plus the options off the bench.

Kerry’s attack is a potent looking one with James O’Donoghue, Paul Geaney and David Clifford capable of inflicting serious damage to any defence, so a real test for the Cork rearguard in which big games will be required from Tomas Clancy, Kevin Crowley and Stephen Cronin.

The key to the outcome will probably be the midfield battle with Ian Maguire and Aidan Walsh up against David Moran and Jack Barry.

What was noticeable in Thurles was the quality of Mark White’s kick-outs; they were excellent and Cork profiting from a similar outcome on Saturday would be a huge plus.

There is no doubt Kerry are favourites and it’s hard to argue with that but it’s essentially a new team as Eamonn Fitzmaurice has placed his faith in youth, and why not on the back of unprecedented underage success? He will also feel confident that they can handle the occasion, as Kerry teams usually do.

Cork are probably under less pressure, apart from within the group itself, to deliver a performance and you sense there is a growing feeling that the team and squad are heading in the right direction.

The expectation is that Kerry will win but do not rule out Cork denying them. It’s a big ask, but it can be done.

7pm start and the game is live on C103.

Junior and under 20 football

Cork, on the back of an easy win over Tipperary, should advance to the Munster Under 20 Final when they take on Clare in Páirc Uí Rinn on Friday at 7.30pm. Mark Keane, Liam O’Donovan, Chris Óg Jones, Damien Gore and Matthew Bradley will be keen to build on that display for the expected final against Kerry in Tralee next week.

One other Cork vs Kerry Final is the junior one on next Wednesday in Tralee.

Kerry have dominated this championship for the last five years, but Cork, with Stephen Calnan as manager, have prepared well. With Kerry fielding a new team, their reign might just end, not before time some would say.

Camogie

A busy weekend with both Cork senior and intermediate teams in action.

On Saturday in Castle Road at 5pm, the intermediate team, fresh from their comfortable win over Carlow, once again entertain Leinster opposition with Laois the visitors and they will be expected to record their second win of the campaign.

The seniors also have Leinster opponents as it's Dublin in Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday at 2.30pm. They were comfortable winners over Offaly in the first round.

Dublin have improved in recent years, and with Laura Twomey, Grainne Quinn, Roisin Baker and Eimear Quinn in their side, they are capable of testing Cork.

However Cork showed in their demolition of Wexford in the first round, that they are still the ones to beat in this championship and with the Mackeys, Catriona and Pamela, Laura Traecy, Linda Collins, Aoife Murray and the returning Orla Cotter all in good form, Cork should win but it could be a lively contest.

Ladies Football

Cork and Kerry meet in the Munster Final in CIT at 2.30pm on Saturday and Ephie Fitzgerald's women will be keen to avenge last year’s defeat in the championship to their near neighbours.

Kerry have endured a tough few months but Sean Walsh taking over as chairman seems to have steadied the ship and they will relish the prospect of facing their old rivals.

It will be a formidable Kerry side but Cork look better equipped to win.

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