Kirwan won’t buy into Kingdom compliments

OH, Eddie Kirwan has to hand it to Eoin Brosnan. Almost got him, he did.

In the Nemo manager’s eyes, the former Kerry star forward played a blinder last week when he claimed the Cork club were Dr Crokes’ role models.

“When Pat [O’Shea] took over the Crokes seniors in 2004, he told the players he wanted us to be more like the Nemo players,” Brosnan told the Irish Examiner.

If Kirwan didn’t know better, he’d believe Brosnan — but he’s not buying it. Classic Kerry mind-games, he says.

“I read what he said but we don’t take any notice of what they do,” guffawed Kirwan. “Ultimately, if you play well your chances of winning are better. Compliments aren’t going to matter one way or the other.

“What they say about us — whether it be good or bad — is irrelevant. Sure, no Kerry boys take much notice of us Cork fellas!”

A playful dig to the Kingdom solar plexus right there, but in extolling Nemo’s record this season of having won 29 games out of 30 played, he inadvertently explains exactly why their Killarney opponents in Sunday’s Munster final are sitting up and taking so much notice of his team right now.

“Both teams are in the same bracket. We’ve lost just one of 30 games this year, won our league final and Crokes have a similarly good record in Kerry.

“This game is just about two good teams in a final. Each wants to prove they’re better than the other.

“People go on about the quality of club football in Cork and that it’s not where it should be but this Nemo side is a fine one. Confidence comes from winning and it’s fair to say we’re going into this game with a lot of it.”

Factor in Nemo’s defeat to Crokes in the 2006 Munster semi-final and not only the initiative but incentive would appear to be with Kirwan’s men — even if their inter-county players Paul Kerrigan and Derek Kavanagh have endured gruelling seasons.

The pair were involved in that six-point defeat in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and haven’t forgotten that November day when they were beaten by a team that, unlike them, hadn’t won their county championship (Crokes represented Kerry instead of divisional side South Kerry, who won the title).

“The likes of Paul and Derek have had a long year but they know there’s a lot still to play for,” said Kirwan.

“That defeat to Crokes when they weren’t champions a few years ago certainly doesn’t sit easy with them.

“No matter how tired they might feel it’s unlikely that it’ll be seen in this final. They’re ready to go.”

Both sides were prepared for action last weekend before the inclement weather forced the Munster Council into postponing the game in Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds by a week.

No big deal, says Kirwan. It’s not as if it has given either side an advantage.

“We want to play, it’s time to play. The players peaked to play last weekend and they’ll have to do it all over again this weekend but Crokes are in the same boat as us.

“You just have to get on with it and make the best of things.”

The week’s break has done little for forward Barry O’Driscoll, who remains out for another three or four weeks as he recovers from a broken cheekbone picked up in the semi-final win over Stradbally.

However, having a player of James Masters’ calibre coming in for him softens the blow, admits Kirwan.

“James had a few problems injury-wise back in October and November but he’s been working his way back and is ready to go now.”

As much as Kirwan rates his opponents on Sunday, he wasn’t overly surprised Tipperary champions Aherlow made it so difficult for Crokes in Cashel the last day out.

It wasn’t as if they had it all their own way against Waterford side Stradbally in their semi-final either — Kirwan dismisses their seven-point win as a true reflection on the game.

“Anyone who said we were going to have it easy against Stradbally doesn’t know their football. They had beaten a good Doonbeg team in the previous game. The Nire could have beaten Crokes there a few years ago. Dromcollogher-Broadford (2008) and Kilmurry-Ibrickane (2009) have been the champions these past couple of years.

“Whatever about Munster championship, the club championship in the province couldn’t be more different. The hierarchy certainly doesn’t include any Cork or Kerry teams right now.”

Even if Crokes regard Kirwan’s club as the best.

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