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Huge task for footballers

Wednesday, 19th June, 2019 3:39pm

“We are happy with our preparation and looking forward to the game, but we know this is going to be a tough one, but these are the matches you train for and playing in a Munster Final is always special.”

The words of Cork captain Ian Maguire, who also said the league campaign was parked immediately when it concluded.

“We talked about it, but quickly moved on, and focused on the championship game with Limerick and we were pleased at the way that match went, but now it’s Kerry and a much bigger game.”

Ian also reflected on the corresponding fixture last year in which Cork got an excellent start but then faded badly: “It's something we have discussed and hopefully we can get a good start but this time we need to maintain it and learn from the mistakes of last year.”

The St Finbarr’s man is well aware of the potential within the Kerry panel. “They lost out in the Division 1 League Final, have dominated Munster for the last few years, but it’s a final and we are ready to give it our best shot, and hopefully that will be good enough on the night.”

Manager Ronan McCarthy is equally looking forward to the game, but like his captain, is aware of the challenge ahead.

“They have been over us in the last few years, and we can have no complaints at that, this is a very hard working group of players who I and the selectors have great faith in.”

McCarthy acknowledges, though, that until such time as they produce a big result they will not be considered as contenders. “We need a big win to get a bit of respect and I have every confidence that it will come soon.”

The manager is around long enough to know that, irrespective of the form displayed by both sides in the semi-final, finals are a different level.

“Without a doubt, this is a big occasion, for some of our guys it will be a first final, but we are confident they can handle all that goes with it.”

That said he is delighted with the manner in which Cork dealt with Limerick.

“I was very pleased, we took our chances early on and put the game to bed, slacked slightly in the second half which was to be expected, but to be fair we finished well.”

Form in recent games has also been good: “I know people do not put much value on challenge games, but all teams we played are in championship mode, so were happy with how they went,” says McCarthy.

Ahead of the Limerick game Cork had wins including, among others, Galway and Dublin, while recently they defeated Roscommon in a very competitive game.

Kerry had, by their standards, an unimpressive semi-final win over Clare, who are always hard to beat in Ennis, but they did enough in the first half to see the tie out.

The danger from a Cork perspective is that Kerry have been forewarned to right the wrongs of that tie and any degree of complacency is now gone.

Kerry are going for seven in-a-row and of course the Super 8s beckons for the winners. It is also a first senior final for manager Peter Keane, and while he enjoyed unprecedented success at underage level, this is a step up, so there may be a little bit of pressure on the champions.

However if any county can handle this, Kerry can.

Much has been made of the vulnerability of the Kerry defence and the absence of the injured Peter Crowley has not helped.

That said, Tadhg Morley, Shane Enright, and Jack Sherwood are good quality footballers who will be keen to keep a tight rein on the Cork attack.

In the Limerick game, Cork’s pace ripped them apart, this will be much tougher, but in Ruairí Deane, Michael Hurley, Eoghan McSweeney and Mark Collins, they have players capable of troubling any unit.

In the Clare game, David Moran was dominant but his dismissal on a black card broke their momentum and they struggled as a consequence.

Midfield is a key area, and if Ian Maguire and Killian O’Hanlon can somehow upset Kerry, it will make for an interesting battle in the middle of the park.

The big question though will hinge on how the Cork defence handle a Kerry attack that is laced with talented scorers. O’Donoghue, Geaney, Clifford and O’Shea ooze class and quality, and if they strike form, well it could make for a tough 70 minutes.

Cork have gone with the same backs that started the Limerick game. James Loughrey and Thomas Clancy bring experience, Mattie Taylor was the most consistent player in the league, while Liam O’Donovan, Nathan Walsh and Kevin Flahive will need to be vigilant from the start.

Any slight lapse in concentration could be fatal and damaging.

There is a view that a good performance from Cork will suffice, unlike the capitulation of last year.

Cork are not interested in a ‘performance’ they are going to win but it’s hard to see them upsetting the odds. Heart, as always, says Cork but head says Kerry.

Minor final

It’s also Cork and Kerry in the minor decider, and here again, Kerry are fancied to maintain their dominance of this championship.

Unlike previous years, the new format at least means Cork, if they lose, will get an extended summer in the quarter-final and manager Bobby O’Dwyer is delighted with that option. “It affords an opportunity to develop the the team, which we hadn’t for the last couple of years, our injuries are clearing up and we are ready for Kerry.”

Of course they met in the earlier round, and despite a promising opening 35 minutes, Kerry were well ahead at the finish. What did they learn from that game?

“We’ll stay focused and stick to our game plan,” says O'Dwyer, “be tight in defence and not allow them the space to create and take scores.”

The win over Clare was a good response to the Kerry defeat and that pleased him: “It was our second game against Clare’s fifth and we were delighted with the lads' application and attitude, and hopefully on Saturday it will be just as good and even better, if we are to get a result.”

A Cork win would be a great start to what promises to be an interesting afternoon on Leeside.

Both games are live on C103.

Camogie

Both Cork teams are in action on Saturday with the seniors facing Tipperary in CIT and the intermediate team meeting Kildare in St Conleth’s Park in Newbridge, with 5pm starts at both venues.

The Cork seniors will be expected to win, and while they were not overly impressive in the win over Clare, they still racked up 3-19.

The sides met in the Munster Final a few weeks back and Cork were comfortable winners - a similar outcome is expected here.

Laura Traecy, Hannah Looney, Niamh McCarthy, Amy O’Connor and Catriona Mackey continue to set high standards and that will see them collect their second brace of points as they continue their push for a semi-final spot.

The intermediates only lost out late on to Kilkenny and will need a big improvement if they are to beat Kildare in their second game.

A word on the timing of the senior game; Cork management I understand looked to have this game played on Sunday, with Pairc Uí Rinn being available, to avoid an obvious clash with the double-header in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, but their request was turned down by camogie HQ.

This is an unbelievable decision, why do they continue to make it difficult for people to attend their games? Given the publicity that will be attached to the Munster football finals, very few if any, bar those directly involved, will be aware of the outcome of the camogie.

Sometimes the greatest obstacle to the promotion of camogie are the people that are ultimately directly responsible for its promotion. In this instance, the fault lies squarely with camogie’s governing body in Croke Park.

Hurling

A disappointing afternoon in Ennis on Sunday last, particularly for the minors whose failure to get the one point they needed to advance to the Munster Final and with it the All-Ireland series, is a cause of regret. Not for the first time, the word was that this was the team to end our long wait for success, and once again, it has proved to be a false dawn.

I have no doubt the selectors worked hard all year, but the absence of players from the premier grade of minor hurling in the county on the panel must be a concern. Surely the higher the grade you play, the better you become?

It was a better afternoon for the seniors, even in defeat, as their season continues with a pathway that might just suit the team after a tough Munster campaign.

Laois or Westmeath are next up, a game Cork will be expected to win, then it’s the Leinster runners-up in the Quarter-Final. A summer of hurling awaits.

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