Such is the structure of the All-Ireland MFC, Kerry and Cork would much rather have stayed clear of each other until next month’s Munster decider.
Electric Ireland Munster MFC semi-final
Kerry v Cork
Tonight: Austin Stack Park, Tralee, 7pm
Referee: Sean Lonergan (Tipperary
Both counties couldn’t have been more comfortable in coming through their quarter-final assignments — Cork had 27 points to spare over Waterford, Kerry had 14 on Tipperary — and yet whoever emerges second-best in this evening’s provincial semi-final, their season is over.
For the winner, the reward isn’t solely a Munster final berth. There’s also an All-Ireland quarter-final appearance, guaranteeing competitive football until well into July. Basically, victory in Tralee will extend the season of either Cork or Kerry by at least two months.
This is the third time in four years the pair have met at this juncture, Kerry taking the spoils on both occasions. The 2015 meeting in Tralee required extra-time and had they not crossed paths until the Munster decider, they probably would have clashed that September too.
It wasn’t as tight this time 12 months ago, David Clifford torching the Cork defence during a 2-17 to 1-10 win.
Kerry minor manager Peter Keane expects a far closer affair at Austin Stack Park.
“Whether ourselves or Cork like it or not that we have to play each other at this point in time, the reality is one of us will be gone after Tuesday night,” said Keane.
“I’ve said this the last two years that I have been involved, this match determines whether you will be together as a group until late July or early August.
The two-time All-Ireland minor-winning manager added: “Everything I have heard [about Cork] is about how good they are. They are very strong, physical, and athletic, and it was a huge score to put up against Waterford, scoring 24 times in the space of 60 minutes. We’re in no doubt about how mighty a battle it will be on the night and it will be touch and go as to who is going to win it.”
Kerry didn’t have to strain themselves when overcoming Tipperary by 1-15 to 0-4 at the beginning of April and while there were a few elements to the performance Keane feels need improvement, he was more interested in observing the behaviour of his players.
“Really, that night was about trying to find out what the lads are like. What are they like on a bus going up to a match like this, what are they like when they put on the Kerry jersey for the first time, and how do they respond to certain situations during a game?
"We’re happy with some of the answers we got to those questions and while we could have won by a bigger score in Thurles, the margin of victory doesn’t matter to me once you win.
“There is a settling in period for players that you have to take account of, but I would be very disappointed that we didn’t take the three goal chances that we had in the first period up in Thurles.
“Maybe, learning when to take on a point as opposed to going for a goal would be something you would like to see going forward, but we are happy with the effort they put in overall in that match.”
M Kelliher (Glenflesk); C Flannery (Dingle), K O’Donoghue (Legion), D Mangan (Laune Rangers); C Moriarty (Annascaul), D McCarthy (Kenmare), D Murphy (Rathmore); D Rahilly (Rathmore), D Lyne (Legion); P Walsh (Brosna), P O’Shea (Kilcummin), K Falvey (Annascaul); P D’Arcy (Glenflesk), J Kennelly (Ballydonoghue), R Ó Beaglaoich (An Ghaeltacht).
D Doody (Buttevent); D Connolly (Glanworth), D Buckley (Newcestown), C O’Donovan (Glanmire); F Cronin (Cullen), D Phelan (Aghada), E Nation (Nemo Rangers); N Hartnett (Douglas), J Harte (Douglas); H Murphy (Eire Óg), Dara O’Sullivan (St Finbarr’s), E Cooke (Ballincollig); S McDonnell (Mallow), A O’Luasa (Naomh Aban), C Corbett (Clyda Rovers).
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