Former Cork star Tom Kenny does not believe the pressure on the side to win silverware is debilitating.
Cork go into Sunday’s Munster SHC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh seeking a first championship trophy since the 2006 Munster crown. Kenny, a member of the panel until the end of last year, believes recent final defeats have been down to factors other than a failure to deal with the prize at stake.
“Obviously, it’s disappointing not to have won silverware in so long but I don’t think it’s overpowering,” he said.
“Last year, Cork were within 30 seconds of winning the All-Ireland and Clare were just better in the replay. It’s not as if we’ve gone in and played a lot of finals over the last number of years and not performed on the day, it has been more of a case that a couple of small things here and there might have helped the cause.
“I wouldn’t think that it’s a weight on their shoulders at all.”
That Cork reached last year’s Munster and All-Ireland finals, losing to Limerick and Clare respectively, has been of benefit to younger members of the panel, he believes.
“If you look at the team, Séamus Harnedy, Conor Lehane, Daniel Kearney and Christopher Joyce are all young lads who have been around for a few years,” Kenny said.
“They have had great experience in getting to Munster and All-Ireland finals, okay they haven’t been successful and that’s unfortunate but there’ll come a time when they do win and hopefully that will be Sunday.”
Sunday represents the first back-to-back meeting of the counties in the final since 1979 and ’80. Limerick prevailed last year against a Cork side shorn of the red-carded Patrick Horgan but Kenny is reluctant to take anything from the Shannonsiders.
“I think, on the day, Limerick were the better side,” he said.
“They were starting to pull away and get on top anyway. If it had been 15 on 15, it might have been a bit closer as it was a very warm day.
“I think Limerick were just that bit better, Cork couldn’t have any qualms. The home support was massive that day and I think it would have driven them on in the second half regardless.”
This weekend, the home support will be Cork’s, albeit in a smaller attendance than last year. The selection of the venue has generated controversy, and Kenny thinks both sides will try to use it to their advantage in the last provincial final there before it is redeveloped.
“Maybe the occasion got to the footballers last week, and hopefully that won’t be the case this weekend,” he said.
“The Cork hurling team and management team will know that it’s a match first and foremost and if they get over that they’ll have a Munster crown.
“Teams everywhere have always used outside motivating factors to get them going. Cork might use the fact that Limerick didn’t want to come down, but Limerick will say that Cork didn’t want to move it up there (to Limerick).
“They’ll want to show that they can come down and win the game, so both teams can use it and it makes it an intriguing battle.”
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