O’Sullivan joy as Rebel stars set to return for Kingdom clash

THE Cork senior football selectors face welcome dilemmas when it comes to picking their team for the All-Ireland semi-final clash with Kerry on Sunday week.

Team selector Ger O’Sullivan has confirmed that Nicholas Murphy, Kevin McMahon, John Miskella and Noel O’Leary are in the frame for inclusion on the starting 15, while there is every possibility team captain Graham Canty will also be available.

“Thankfully, the injuries are finally beginning to clear up. Apart from Paudie Kissane, who won’t be fit, it looks like we will have a full panel to choose from,” said O’Sullivan.

“Nicholas will be fully recovered by the end of this week, Kevin, John and Noel are fully fit but it will be well into next week before we know about Graham.

“From experience, I know the type of injury he had is slow to heal. He is making great progress, and while he desperately wants to play, he won’t be risked if he is not 100%.”

Referring back to the victory over Kildare last Sunday, Ger made light of Cork’s failure to kill off the opposition.

“Show me a team that has done that this season,” he said. “Kerry had us on the rack in the Munster final, but we recovered to win; Limerick led Meath by four goals at one stage in the qualifiers and were fortunate to hang on for the win; Armagh were well on top against Fermanagh in the drawn Ulster final and were lucky to force a replay while Kildare led Cavan by six points in the qualifiers before hanging on for a one-point win.

“No team will dominate a game from start to finish. The opposition will always enjoy a period of control and it’s then you have to show your mettle.

“For us it was the long lay off since the Munster final on July 6.

“I feel it was that lack of quality competition which resulted in our play becoming very sloppy on occasions. Some of our passing went haywire and cost us a couple of points. That wouldn’t have happened had we been playing more often.

“A number of our players said to me after Sunday’s game that it was a huge step up from what we had been doing in training.

“To be brutally honest, it was all about winning last Sunday. We had just one objective in mind going up to Croke Park last Sunday, and that was to get a result. It didn’t have to be pretty, once we won the game.

“We are where we want to be, in another All-Ireland final and the fact that Kerry will be our opponents won’t bother us. A lot has been made of our defeat by them in last year’s final, but to be fair, it has to be put in context.

“It was the first All-Ireland final for our players and a huge occasion for them, while Kerry were regular visitors and winners there. Last Sunday is bound to stand to Cork. There was a massive crowd from Leeside there and that gave the team a massive lift.

“Cork have proved following the disappointment of last year’s defeat and the subsequent events off the field, that they are well and truly back as a footballing force. That’s all we ever wanted to be, to be up there challenging for honours with the best, and we’ll make it difficult for any one.”

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