Big guns preaching caution ahead of semi-finals

BOTH John Kennedy and Mick Slocum are singing from the same hymn sheet ahead of tonight’s Munster MFC semi-finals.

The Kerry and Cork bosses enter their respective clashes against Clare and Tipperary with home advantage and strong favouritism behind them.

Yet caution rather than complacency is the attitude that will be adopted. From his stint as Clare senior manager, Kennedy is familiar with the football workings of the opposition.

“I’d be well aware there’s huge work going on in Clare. They have quality fellas in charge and Ger Keane has great senior experience. With development squads in place, these counties are all well organised now.

“We’re happy with how we’re progressing. We’ve been able to have everyone together, whereas before lads were involved in colleges and home advantage will be a help for us.”

For Slocum the most telling evidence to relate to his charges of Tipperary’s capabilities is the scare Cork received in the recent Munster U21 final between the counties.

“Anyone who saw the U21 final will know Tipperary have good footballers. Their seniors are flying and I saw the minors play very well against Waterford. You must remember as well that last year Kerry beat us and were then haunted to get a draw against Tipperary in the Munster final.

“Tipperary football is full of confidence. It’s a massive game for us because if we win it means a Munster final place and guaranteed football into August with the backdoor. That’s why this is such an important game.”

Despite all the words of warning, it’s difficult to look past either of the traditional Munster powerhouses in these semi-finals. Kerry’s defence was watertight against Tipperary, with Phillip Galvin and Jeremy Hoare excelling down the centre. Eanna O’Connor led the scoring charge in attack but he’ll have able support in Coláiste na Sceilge teammates Ian Galvin and Niall O’Shea.

Clare had a fine victory over Waterford with Cathal McInerney, Conor Ryan and Stephen Collins all impressing, but it’s difficult to see them racking up the necessary scores against the Kerry backline.

Cork showcased plenty attacking potential against Limerick with Kiskeam’s Daniel Fitzgerald in superb form and John Dineen standing out as well. They have resolute defenders in Damien Cahalane and Alan Cronin, while Patrick Wiley rules the midfield sector.

Tipperary have made three changes for this game; Eddie Kendrick replaces Sean O’Meara at midfield, Michael Ivors comes in for Aldo Matassa at corner-forward while Liam Treacy is named at full-forward with Johnny McMahon dropping to the bench.

They flatlined in their opening tie against Kerry, but showed signs of improvement after that against Waterford. Billy Hewitt and Roger Peters showed up well for them in attack, while Paddy Dalton and Gerard Mulhair are the defensive standouts. But ultimately Cork’s greater strength should be decisive.

TIPPERARY (MF v Cork): A Wall (Cahir); P Dalton (Arravale Rovers), J Ryan (Ardfinnan), G Quinn (Clonmel Óg); L Murphy (Ballylooby/Castlegrace), G Mulhair (Arravale Rovers), D Dwyer (Moyle Rovers); E Kendrick (Cahir), J Lonergan (Moyle Rovers); T Hill (Moyle Rovers), R McGrath (Newport), R Peters (Cahir); M Ivors (Ballingarry), L Treacy (Loughmore/Castleiney), B Hewitt (Ardfinnan).

Subs: P Nolan (Clonmel Commercials), S Foley (Moyle Rovers), J Fennelly (Ballingarry), E Fitzpatrick (J. K. Brackens), S O'Meara (Arravale Rovers), E Kent (Ballina, A Matassa (Clonmel Commercials), J McMahon (Inane Rovers), S Power (Clonmel Commercials).

CORK (MF v Tipperary): S Mellett (Carrigaline); D O’Donovan (Ilen Rovers), D Rodgers (Brian Dillons), D Cahalane (Castlehaven); A Cronin (Nemo Rangers), R O’Sullivan (Argideen Rangers), W O’Mahony (Clann na nGael); E Healy (Aghada), P Wiley (St Finbarr’s); D Nation (Nemo Rangers), J O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers), D Drake (Carrigaline); D Fitzgerald (Kiskeam), J Dineen (Éire Óg), B Hurley (Castlehaven).

Subs: A O’Donoghue (Aghada), S O’Shea (Adrigole), D Brosnan (St Nicholas), S Finn (Glanworth), G Minihane (O’Donovan Rossa), S Down (Kilmurry), R Deane (Bantry Blues), D Murphy (Castletownbere), M Russell (Aghada).

KERRY (MF v Clare): P O’Sullivan (Churchill); M Galvin (Ballymacelligott), P Galvin (Ballymacelligott), N Fitzgerald (Waterville); M Finnegan (Spa), J Hoare (Glenbeigh/Glencar), D Wrenn (Tarbert); S Carroll (Austin Stacks), D Doody (Na Gaeil); I Galvin (Derrynane), J Sherwood (Firies), M Brennan (Churchill); N O’Shea (c) (Dromid Pearses), E O’Connor (St Michael’s/Foilmore), D O’Sullivan (Rathmore).

Subs: P McCarthy (Rathmore), P O’Connor (Gneeveguilla), M Griffin (St Michael’s/Foilmore), K Hurley (St Pat’s), M Thiemann (St Michael’s/Foilmore), J O’Sullivan (Kilcummin), M Reen (Rathmore), K Doona (Laune Rangers), D Culhane (Ballylongford).

CLARE (MF v Kerry): W Deloughrey (Cratloe); M O’Connor (Kilmaley), Sean Brennan (Wolfe Tones), G Johnson (Kilmurry-Ibrickane); S Collins (Doora-Barefield), E Malone (Corofin), S Malone (Miltown Malbay); K O’Connor (Kildysart), Shane Brennan (Clondegad); D Sexton (Kilmurry-Ibrickane), C Ryan (Cratloe), S Tierney (St Breckan’s); C McInerney (Cratloe), E Finnucane (Lissycasey), C Nolan (Doora-Barefield).

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