The redeployment of Matthew Flaherty to right-half back was a key factor in Kerry’s successful defence of the Munster minor crown, according to manager Jack O’Connor.
Flaherty, who played the first period at right half-forward, was outstanding in the number five shirt during Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne’s successful Hogan Cup run and the Dingle youngster stamped his authority on proceedings when reverted to a familiar role, tearing forward at every opportunity.
“It was a fierce tough battle and that is what we expected because this is a highly rated Cork team, especially their forwards. They have six forwards that are very good. We got a fierce battle,” reflected O’Connor.
“Our backs were exposed to forwards today that they hadn’t seen in the championship so far. We are glad to get through by the skin of our teeth. I doubt if it was even a four point game, just delighted to get through.
“Cork have very big men at midfield and instead of dominating early on, we just hung in there. We switched Matthew Flaherty back to wing-back and he drove us forward. We have a bit of thinking to do for the next game, but for now we will take this victory.
“We had it up to seven and they brought it back to one which showed good character on their part. They will take beating in the championship yet.”
Cork manager Donal O’Sullivan said the enforced changes prior to throw-in brought about by injuries to three of his regular starters had upset the team.
“Kerry were sharper and we couldn’t get our marquee forwards on the ball as quick as we would have liked. The lads we were missing did hurt — Michael Dineen, Brian Coakley and Daniel Meaney are big players for us. You are chopping and changing then and it is a bit unsettled because you are pulling lads out of position.”
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