Three key battles: Where Cork and Kerry need to shine to win Munster final

Three key battles: Where Cork and Kerry need to shine to win Munster final

Two-time All-Star Clifford has had a different starting marker for each of his three previous SFC games against Cork — Sam Ryan (2018), Kevin Flahive (‘19), and Maurice Shanley last November

David Clifford v Daniel O’Mahony

Two-time All-Star Clifford has had a different starting marker for each of his three previous SFC games against Cork — Sam Ryan (2018), Kevin Flahive (‘19), and Maurice Shanley last November. Ten points, eight from play, across those three games is not exactly shooting the lights out, although his two-point return in his first Munster final three years ago told only part of a story as he gave Ryan a torrid time. 

Flahive is set to start in Killarney tomorrow but a renewal of their duel doesn’t appear to be on the cards, Ronan McCarthy likely opting to put the brash energy of O’Mahony to good use against Kerry’s star man.

Seán Meehan v Seán O’Shea

Promoted as quickly as Clifford was to the senior team in 2018, there was never any doubt O’Shea had the skills to become a star Kerry footballer. But the transformation of his physique in the last couple of seasons would suggest that he could be at home as much in midfield as among the half-forwards.

O’Shea can now play more direct by breaking through tackles. Peter Keane will hope he is such a presence that Meehan doesn’t have the courage to break forward as he did in last year’s Munster semi-final. The Kiskeam defender does have the engine, though.

Gavin Crowley v Ruairí Deane

On the other 45 metre line, like Meehan, Crowley is as much a sentry as a marker given Cork will look to use their explosive running from deep to throw the opposing back-line out of whack.

Crowley has thus far shown the discipline required to help maintain that shape but Deane is a powerful runner and if he makes the hard yards through the centre expect the likes of Seán Powter and Kevin O’Donovan looking to take the ball on.

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