Despite Cork’s underage football progress, Oisín McConville paints a bleak picture of their Munster Championship future.
“I’m sure Kerry will lose one in my lifetime, but that’s probably about it.”
Speaking on this week's Irish Examiner Gaelic football podcast, Éamonn Fitzmaurice pointed to Cork’s age grade success as an indicator that the rivalry won’t continue to produce matches as one-sided as Sunday’s provincial final.
“If you look at Cork underage, their U20s have done well. Those lads are used to winning. The only thing is not enough seem to be transferring into the senior team for whatever reason.”
However, McConville wonders if the environment young Cork stars come into will allow them to flourish.
“When you think about Cork underage, and the size of the county, you think that they will mobilise the troops and it’s fair to say that’s already started, even if it’s in its infancy.
“But in the short to medium term, if you walk into that dressing room, what’s it like as an under-19? I’ve seen this in my own county, if you’re an under-19 coming in you’re expected to be one of the main men, you’re expected to lead.
“There’s no grace, a year or two to find your feet. And while you’re finding your feet, you get beaten by 22 points in a Munster final. It’s very unforgiving — what entices young lads back to play in that game?
“That’s not even questioning management, but what sort of leadership is there in that changing room, what sort of accountability. For me, that’s a big thing that Cork won't be able to sort out for some time.
“For now they need to forget about beating Kerry in Munster Championship, they need to create a base for themselves in Division 2, try to get into Division 1, and work it that way.
"Short to medium term, aspirations of beating Kerry in Munster Championship, not going to happen.”
As for Kerry, winning comfortably without their star forward playing to his normal standard was an added bonus, as far as McConville is concerned.
“The icing on the cake, David Clifford had a shocker. Peter Keane must be absolutely loving it. Imagine David Clifford going into an All-Ireland semi-final with something to prove. It’s some position to be in.
“All the other moving parts were exceptional. There's still question marks, not so much in a football capacity but when they are forced to dig deep. Monaghan or Tyrone will force them to dig deep at some stage.”
If Tyrone do come through next weekend’s Ulster final, Fitzmaurice expects Kerry to face a very different animal, pointing to rumours the visitors endured a gruelling training session the morning of their 18-point league defeat in Killarney last month.
“They were looking at winning Ulster, they were probably looking at what was going to happen in the Munster Championship and a possible meeting with Kerry in an All-Ireland semi-final.
“These yarns always come with a health warning but that performance that evening was so far off. Kerry were impressive, but they were so far off, it might explain it, if it’s true.
“They are starting to look serious again. They are starting to get the bit of meanness back in their game again, and they might just have a tiny bit too much for Monaghan.”