BILLY MORGAN has described as “crazy” the system which allows county champions to nominate a captain for the senior inter-county side the following season.
Both Kilkenny and Tipperary started this year’s All-Ireland final with their captains — Michael Fennelly and Willie Ryan — on the bench and Kerry’s Darran O’Sullivan may do likewise on Sunday.
Cork abolished that policy this year when delegates voted to remove the rule — as well as another which allowed the county champions to nominate a selector — and it has allowed Conor Counihan to hand the armband to Graham Canty.
“I know clubs, when they win the county, they want to have their man up there but the county team is different to a club team,” said Morgan whose second spell as Cork football manager ended after the 2007 All-Ireland final defeat to Kerry.
“In my own time, UCC won the county and, when we played the first round of the national league, Sean O’Shea was playing his first game for Cork and he was captain.
“It’s crazy. Cork have the ideal captain in Graham Canty. The county should appoint their captain, as the club appoints its captain.”
If Cork taste victory this weekend it will be their first senior football All-Ireland title to be claimed without Morgan’s input since 1945 and the former goalkeeper believes the current outfit is superior to that which lost two seasons ago.
“When we took over in 2004, our aim was to look for players and that, as a team, we would compete. When the time came that we had to step down, if we hadn’t won an All-Ireland, our aim was to have the basis of a team there that could go forward and compete.
“In the last two years, there’s a hardcore of the old group there but the younger players that have come through from the U21 set-up, they’re used to winning. They’ve won five out of six Munster titles, they’ve two All-Irelands. They’re used to winning. They’re confident. There’s a confidence about the whole team there now that wasn’t there before.”
If Cork are better since their last All-Ireland final defeat, then so too are Kerry, certainly according to Mick O’Dwyer who, like Morgan, feels that this game will be won by the team that edges the battle in the trenches in the middle third.
Twelve months ago, Kerry faced Tyrone with Bryan Sheehan and Eoin Brosnan as their wing-forwards. This year they are likely to field Paul Galvin and Tadhg Kennelly in those key zones where both men will be expected to scrap as well as score.
“Galvin is playing outstanding at present,” said O’Dwyer. “He is going to be a big plus. Kennelly is doing exceptionally well. More than likely he will be on the other wing and Declan O’Sullivan will be in the mix too.
“That is a great half-forward line but it is an outstanding half-back line for Cork. This is where this game is going to be won and lost. The Kerry half-forward line will have to harass the Cork half-back line, put it under pressure all day.”
Morgan and O’Dwyer spent many an afternoon in opposite trenches but they were in agreement yet again yesterday when both said that all the pressure will be on Cork this Sunday and that their fate may rest on how they deal with that.
“That’s what Cork have got to get over,” said Morgan. “Try and forget who’s in the other corner. Cork haven’t beaten Kerry in Croke Park. We’ve lost five times since 2002 and done very well against them in Munster. It’s about getting over that hurdle and it probably is a psychological one. From what I believe, there is no fear in the Cork camp.
“They have to go out Sunday and have no fear. Forget it’s Kerry. Go out and play and impose their own game. Kerry will come at them all guns blazing and look for an early lead and put doubts in Cork’s minds again.
“Cork have just got to believe in themselves and go for it.”
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