Weeshie's Week

Preview of the Munster Semifinal against Cork

June 5th, 2012
by Weeshie Fogarty

Three weeks ago before a ball was kicked in the championship I mentioned here that in my opinion Cork would be favourites against Kerry in the Munster semi final. Well nothing has changed in the intervening weeks to force me alter my decision. In fact following Kerry's inept display against Tipperary two weeks ago this view is only reinforced. Nevertheless it will suit Kerry down to the ground to go into this latest battle of the age old rivals as underdogs and by virtues of the fact that Cork have just captured their third in a row division one league title only reinforces the view that this win together with home advantage must see them into the Munster final.  However Kerry and Cork matches seldom finish up as the experts predict. And once again there are a myriad of improbable questions which can only be answered as the game unfolds.

What occurred in the Kerry/Tipperary game will have very little bearing on what will happen next Sunday. The whole mood, mind set, preparation, team talk, analysis and approach for Sunday will be as different as chalk and cheese. It's as simple as that. Just consider the atmosphere in Pairc Ui Chaoimh in relation to Thurles the last day. It will be electric as the teams race out onto the field and players from both sides will as the say "be wired to the moon".  This Cork side are now at a stage of development where they will fully expect to win the All ireland. They underachieved last year, now have three of their top forwards, Colm o Neill, Daniel Goulding and Ciaran Sheehan back from serious injury. They have added greatly to the panel with the result that they now have a very experienced subs bench. And in to days near professional game the men brought on when the fat is in the fire can well decide the outcome. They have also added a very distinct harder edge to their game which is reflected in the statistic of picking up twenty five yellow cards, two red cards and two retrospective reds in their league campaign. Only Dublin were in front of Cork as the leagues worse defenders.

This harder edge I refer to was very evident in the league final against Mayo when the more physical, stronger Rebel side literally ground Mayo down and in many ways bullied the western side into submission.  The Cork game plan is usually, play tight, lots of cross field hand passing as they come forward and on this point they have been criticized in many circles for not playing an expansive game. Now however since Aidan Walsh has been moved in full forward this has change slightly and his fielding ability has given them another dimension and  we will wait and see if the Kanturk man is there next Sunday or will the free scoring Colm o Neill operate on the verge of the square. Cork have lots of options close to the Kerry goal. Daniel Bohane had a very good game at full back against Tipperary but this is a far greater test for the Stacks man and I expect to see Marc o Se picking up Donnacha o Connor and Shane Enright in the other corner. However it's in the half fordward line that we may see the greatest problems for Kerry. Paddy Kelly and Paul Kerrigan both poses great pace and Thomas o Se, Eoin Brosnan and probably Killian Young will need all their great experience to curtail their opponents.

There has been plenty talk and discussion about Kieran Donaghy as regards where he should play and why he was disciplined for the Tipp game. Now all that is in the past and I for one am expecting a big game from Star. He, like all the Kerry squad like to prove a point and if as I believe he should play at full forward he will cause huge problems for the Cork defence. He had his run out field during the league now it might be time to go back to the basics and play him where he was always at his best. And on this very same point, going back to the basics, when Jack o Connors men were at their peak they played with great abandon, flair, panache style and skill in the true Kerry tradition. Now it is time I believe to curtail the hand passing, move the ball at speed, forward and fast and target the inside men at all times. In Colm Cooper Kerry have the best corner forward in the game, and I emphases the word corner, he should be plied with plenty ball, stay near the Cork goal and he in turn should be more selfish and go for his own score much more.  Graham Canty, Eoin Cadigan Noel o Leary and Michael Shields are all very good experienced defenders but our forwards including Daren and Declan o Sullivan and Paul Galvin on their day and at their best will open them up. Pierce o Neill and Alan o Connor two big strong running mid fielders will be well match by Brian Sheehan and Anthony Maher and in to days so called modern game the side that wins the most breaking ball around the middle will gain a huge advantage.

There is always lots of speculation as to who will or will not be on the starting fifteen, but I believe the substitutes who come on will have a far bigger bearing on the result. It will be a hard physical battle as always and they are so many imponderables. What style of refereeing will we see? What if any effect will the new square ball rule have on the game, and the biggest question of all, can Kerry show the necessary improvement from the Tipperary game? And then lets not forget that Kerry have a vital championship game played while Cork have been without a competitive match since the league final. None of the two sides want to go gallivanting around Ireland as entry through the back door beckons so it will be all action from the word go. The late great John B Keane, who sadly died ten years ago last week once told me that there is no rivalry anywhere to match that of Kerry and Cork in the Munster championship and he never said a truer word. It is yet another mouth watering clash. My heart says Kerry while my head says Cork. If Jack o Connors men display the style of football referred to previously from the word go and keep Cork  continuously on the back foot then they will win.  The question is however, what style of football will we see?

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