CHAMPIONS Cork are compelled, under rule, to field a completely new team for the All-Ireland junior football championship, but they are back tonight to defend their provincial crown against Kerry at Páirc Uí Chaoimh (7.30pm).
Coach Mossie Barrett and his selectors have worked hard over the past few months putting this new squad of players together, and while they survived a searching test against Limerick in the semi-final, there is every reason to feel optimistic about tonight’s clash with Kerry.
Kerry coach Buddy O’Grady has included four members of the All-Ireland U21 winning team in Mike O’Donoghue, Paddy Curran, Colm O’Mahony and Alan O’Sullivan in an attempt to wrestle the title back from Cork.
“We are without Fergal McAuliffe from the team which defeated Clare in the semi-final because of a shoulder operation. It’s disappointing for him but it gives Pat Corridan his opportunity to show what he can do,” said O’Grady.
“Clare made it hard for us and should have had two early goals, but once we settled we took control. They came back at us in the second-half and got two penalties, but we had enough in hand to ride out the storm and won comfortably.
“Leaving the rivalry aside for a moment, playing Cork in football is always a pleasant experience, particularly at this level. I love playing them as you are guaranteed a game of football with none of the pull and drag you get in the other grades.
“We never get it easy from Cork, particularly in Páirc Uí Chaoimh and I don’t expect tonight will be any different. They’ve had to put a new team together and are back in the final. That’s an indication of how strong the game is in their county. I suspect there won’t be much in it.”
Cork will field a team of youth and experience. There are three current U21s involved in Sean Kiely, Colm O’Driscoll and David Goold, while Michael Prout, who captained Cork to All-Ireland success in the past, Sean Levis and Brendan Jer O’Sullivan have played senior.
Coach Mossie Barrett is without Ray Carey (injured), Hugh Curran and Tadgh Twomey from the team which defeated Limerick in their semi-final.
“Carey will be a loss as I rate him highly, while the other two are demoted to the subs bench. We’ll need to improve greatly on the form we showed against Limerick if we are to succeed,” said Barrett.
“You could put our sluggishness in that game down to it being our first outing with a completely new team. We had played 12 games in the lead up to the championship outing, but there is a big difference between challenge matches and the real thing.
“Kerry were successful on their last visit to Cork and we be very keen to regain their crown. If we play to our potential I feel we will be in with a great chance, but there won’t be much in.”
KERRY (JFC v Cork): S. Óg Ó Ciardubhain (Cordial); K. Quirke (Duagh), W. Sullivan (Skellig Rangers), C. O’Mahony (Ballydonoghue); F. Griffin (Glenbeigh/Glencar), P. Corridan (Finuge), J. King (Beale); A. Maher (Duagh), A. Garnet (Spa); A. O’Sullivan (Tuosist), A. Garnet (Spa); JP Brosnan (Gneeveguilla), M. O’Donoghue (Spa); P. Curran (Waterville), N. Fleming (Ballydesmond), C. Daly (Churchill).
Subs: M. Moriarty (Beaufort), A. Cahillane (Keel), D. Doyle (Churchill), JP Leahy (Ballyduff), N. Óg Horgan (Beale), E. Mangan (Ballylongford), N. Mahony (Spa), D. O’Sullivan (Lispole), M. Murphy (Gneevegullia), P. McCarthy (Currow).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved