Question: Outline the reasons for a contest.
Answer: 1. Cork’s no-shows are more commonly found in Páirc Uí Chaoimh - since their famous 1995 win in Killarney, only the 2004 Munster semi-final and final of four years ago could be considered underwhelming performances by the away team.
2. There is as much pace if not more in the Cork team. With the weather still to be warm, the boundless energy of Seán Powter is even more of a weapon than it was in the torrents of rain in Ballintemple last November.
And 3. Kerry’s winning margins have been getting progressively worse. From tanking Tyrone by 19 points, their advantages have dropped to 17 against Clare and 11 against Tipperary the last day.
Okay, that last one might be stretching it but in the Tipperary game Cork were presented with a rearguard template by last year’s provincial champions that if modified to allow more men in the Kerry half of the field could give Cork a foothold in this game. The last thing Cork need is for somebody like Tom O’Sullivan or Gavin White to spend as much time in the Cork half as their own but to deprive Kerry of a scorching start they will have to soak up that early pressure.
Cork’s restarts have to be so on the money to give them a fighting chance. David Moran knows he has a debt to pay from last year although Ian Maguire will be expecting it and fancy himself to win that battle again. Cork certainly can’t go short too often as the Kerry press has been shown to be suffocating.
The worrying aspect of Cork’s recent outings against Westmeath and Limerick is their collective lack of focus for patches of games. Ultimately, those lapses didn’t cost them in those games but here they are facing a team who aren’t contemplating defeat and determined to put behind them one of the longest winters in Kerry football history.
Conjure doubt in Kerry heads and Cork have a chance but if there is one team uncertain about itself right now it’s the visitors.