Kerry manager William O’Sullivan fears that Cork’s spectacular comeback against Dublin could spell trouble for the Kingdom in Saturday’s All-Ireland Ladies senior football semi-final.
All-Ireland champions Cork came from nine points down against the Dubs in a remarkable quarter-final, to clinch a four-point victory with a run of 1-10 without reply.
Cork looked dead and buried and the worry for Kerry now is that the Leesiders have rediscovered their best form at the business end of the championship.
The Rebelettes looked sluggish and lethargic in the Munster championship and that allowed Kerry to beat them not once, but twice in the provincial campaign.
But now the scene is set for the third championship meeting between the neighbours this season – in what is also a repeat of last year’s All-Ireland final.
O’Sullivan said: “During the Munster championship, Cork were a team looking for fifth gear. They found it against Dublin and that’s bad news for us.
“Juliet (Murphy) brought a certain amount of organisation to the middle of the park and they feel more comfortable with her there.
“They’re better than what we played in Munster – no doubt about that.”
Kerry, fresh from their victory over Mayo, looked on at St Brendan’s Park in Birr as Cork came from the dead to reel in Leinster champions Dublin.
And O’Sullivan revealed: “Our trainer Alan O’Neill was beside me and he was saying that it was over when they went nine points down. I said: ‘do you want to put money on that?’ It was a carbon copy of what happened between the teams in 2011 (quarter-final when Cork scored seven unanswered points to win).
“Cork are Cork – they’re not going to die until the final whistle.”
O’Sullivan concedes that beating Cork for a third time in the championship will be “difficult” but added: “We’re in a better place than we would have been in any other year. For Cork, they have Juliet back and a full team so there are no excuses about what might have happened in Caherciveen, hitting the crossbar in the Munster final and kicking a few wides.
“There are no excuses now. For them it’s all or nothing – for us, too, in many ways.
“It should make for a good match and we’ll obviously take a bit of confidence from knowing that we’ve beaten them twice already.
“But the dynamic is going to be different. There’s a different pace to an All-Ireland semi-final than a qualifier or Munster final.”
Meanwhile, Cork manager Eamonn Ryan believes that resilience and unity dug his team out of a massive hole against Dublin.
He explained: “There’s a great bond and camaraderie amongst them.
“I suppose it was that team dynamic that took over. It’s very hard to put your finger on what initiated it. Everybody realised that they were in trouble and worked harder.”
Ryan concedes that the “psychology” of the Cork-Kerry rivalry has changed, as the Munster champions have now managed to beat the Rebelettes in big championship games.
He added: “Their confidence is bound to be sky-high. We were their nemesis for a good few years but they’ve beaten us twice and that changes the whole psychology of the thing. The challenge for us is can we bounce back? Only Saturday will tell us that really.”