Pace and energy of Cork attack to be decisive in Munster final

Dual star Aidan Walsh can provide midfield platform for win over Kerry

Kerry’s James O’Donoghue in action against  Cork’s Thomas Clancy. The Kingdom’s All Star will prove a big threat tho the home team at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Kerry’s James O’Donoghue in action against Cork’s Thomas Clancy. The Kingdom’s All Star will prove a big threat tho the home team at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Tomorrow afternoon brings down the curtain on the old Páirc Uí Chaoimh’s history as a football venue. The same fixture packed out the then new ground in the 1976 Munster final replay but downbeat estimates of 20,000 or less suggest this weekend’s crowd will be more in keeping with the norm over the past 38 years. Cork supporters show up in bigger numbers in Killarney than at home.

The last time they met in Cork in the final, just 22,784 turned up despite – or maybe because, given the one-sided nature of the match – both counties having contested the previous year’s All-Ireland final.

In transition

Kerry would be in transition even without Colm Cooper’s injury and within the last year they lost further legendary names, Tomás Ó Sé and Paul Galvin, to retirement. Cork have gone through a similar process and this is the first meeting of the counties in the post-Graham Canty era.

Cork manager Brian Cuthbert goes into his first provincial final having left Colm O’Neill on the bench.

. Speculation is that had Tipperary not proved so resistant the dual players Eoin Cadogan, Aidan Walsh and Damien Cahalane would have remained on the bench in the semi-final but that given their impact and Walsh’s in particular, the recalls were inevitable.

Walsh will be required at near his best for Cork to take a grip at centrefield because Kerry have more proven options in the middle with the returning Johnny Buckley and Anthony Maher. David Moran is on the bench for this and needs a bit more time to get up to speed after exams and injury. Bryan Sheehan starts on the 40.

A decent supply into the forwards and you’d expect the Cork attack to do some damage. Brian Hurley could be a handful for Aidan O’Mahony and on either side Daniel Goulding and Brian O’Driscoll pose threats for the experienced Marc Ó Sé and Tadhg Enright although Paul Murphy is available to switch if it starts getting out of hand for Kerry.

A setback

Peter Crowley’s loss of form has been a setback to the team and he drops to the bench but the sooner he recovers, the better it will be for the Kingdom.

The big question about this match however is how matters progress at the other end of the field. Cooper’s promptings gave Kerry the big first-half cushion last year and in his absence James O’Donoghue is going to have to do more himself.

The All Star was missing from the uninspired showing against Clare and will add some pizzazz up front and will awaken some bad memories for Michael Shields, who toiled in the Legion corner forward’s wake last year. Beside him Eoin Cadogan will also be wary of the lessons of that match during which Declan O’Sullivan also had his moments.

Paul Geaney, a strong Sigerson winning campaign as UCC captain under his belt this year, has the potential to ignite.

Cork’s defence will be under pressure and that will create free-kick opportunities for the precise Sheehan but the home side’s pace and energy can be decisive.

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