Rebels bidding to topple dominant Kerry

KERRY’S record in Munster minor football over the last decade is quite intimidating.

They have won the Tadgh Crowley Cup seven times as against three wins for Cork.

In that same period the counties have met seven times with victory going to the lads from the Kingdom on four occasions, the last in the 2008 final.

For the record Kerry have won the provincial minor football title 41 times as opposed to Cork who have 28 titles, all of which makes Kerry the outstanding county in the province at this level of football.

Predicting the outcome of minor championship games can be a nightmare. A coach may think he has a very good team but it can let him down with a bang.

This year’s campaign is a case in point. Kerry looked to be coasting to a facile win over Tipperary in round one in Austin Stack Park some months ago but at the end of the game were hanging on by just two points.

The selectors, clearly unhappy with the way that game almost slipped away, made a few changes for the semi-final against Limerick and went on to crush the Shannonsiders 2-15 to 0-6 in Newcastlewest.

Kerry manager Pat O’Driscoll felt his side were very scattered in their two games to date and will need to improve greatly if they are to hold on to their title.

“Form for both teams has been very similar. Had the first round against Tipp gone on a while longer we could very easily lost it while Cork made heavy work of beating them also.

“I know we chalked up a big score against Limerick but they kicked a lot of wides on the night and should have been a lot closer to us in the finish, while Cork got a couple of late points to beat Clare in Ennis.

“Having said that, what has gone on before will have no bearing on Sunday’s final. Cork and Kerry invariably bring the best out of each other and both teams won’t need any motivation for the game.”

Cork selector Donal O’Sullivan team spokesman, referring to the number of changes that have been made, argues that they have picked players who are in form.

“We have been trying different combinations and hopefully we have come up with the right one on this occasion. While Kerry have had the same problems in terms of the Leaving Cert., the dual involvement hasn’t helped us one bit.

“We are going to Killarney tomorrow under no illusions. We will need a good performance for the 60 minutes, if we don’t get it we’ll be wiped out,” said the Castletownbere man.

Clearly unhappy with their side to date, the Cork selectors have made three changes from the side that defeated Tipperary in the semi-final, while the defending champions have made just one.

All three Cork changes have been made in the full back line where dual player Damien Cahalane, Darren Murphy and Jamie Wall replace Derek Crowley, Mathew O’Shea and Diarmuid Lester.

Apart from the three changes in personnel, Cork have also made six positional changes, but the selectors feel they are necessary and only time will tell if they are correct.

Kerry’s one change which is forced upon manager Pat O’Driscoll. Barry O’Dwyer comes in for the injured Sean Keane and will play at right corner forward with Gavin O’Grady moving to full forward.

Eanna O’Connor, son of county senior boss Jack, is a great forward prospect, while David Culhane and James Walsh are excellent defenders who won’t concede too many scores to the Cork forwards.

This is a final between the fiercest of football rivals who always bring the best out of each other. Minor is a grade that has been very good to both counties in terms of developing players for the higher grades.

Today’s teams are no exception with a number of exciting youngsters on both sides. They are getting their chance to show their talents in front of a big crowd on Munster final day in Killarney, and it will be interesting to see how many of them progress on to their respective U21 and senior teams.

Whenever Cork and Kerry get together in a football final no matter what the grade, the sparks fly. Tomorrow should be no exception.

Cork won’t have the support behind them as their seniors are not involved, and it may give Kerry the edge.

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