Cork defeat Kerry in the Minor Championship

April 30th, 2013
by Weeshie Fogarty

How often have we said in recent years when Kerry and Cork meet at under age level the rebel county players were much stronger, bigger built and much more physical that their Kerry opponents? Fairly often I suggest. And why is it that in these recent clashes when push comes to shove in the closing minutes of championship games  Cork are much better in the art of winning or drawing in those closing hectic minutes. Well we saw the same scenario unfolding before a troubled Kerry crowd at Austin Stack Park last Friday as Cork once again gave Kerry a lesson in how to win minor games playing the so called "modern" style of football. Quite simply Corks physique gave them the platform to simply brush past their opponents while the Kerry lads much weaker physically had to constantly as they say, pass the ball hither and thither, in and out, over and back as they attempted to get past their opponents. So consider this, Cork had their last score of the game in the 45th minute of the second half, Kerry simply owned the ball for the remainder of the match but they ran up against what Kerry senior teams have toiled against ineffectively in recent years, the so called swarm or packed defense.

And so it was in the second half last Friday evening we were forced to witness a mass of bodies, up to twenty five at times inside the Cork half as the winners pulled thirteen men behind the ball and simply prevented their opponent from opening up any clear cut goaling chances. The home side, try as they might were simply engulfed in a wall of red and white clad Cork men and we saw a string of passes being intercepted, going astray or the man in possession being forced by sheer force of numbers  to give away possession. This is the "modern" game as we know it to day, this is the swarm/crowded thirteen men behind the ball that I first saw in '03 when Tyrone introduced it to the bewildered supporters in Croke Park and in doing so defeated Kerry in the semi final 0-13 to 0-6. This was one of Kerry's lowest ever scores in a seventy minute game. And who will ever forget that iconic photograph in the daily papers the following day which showed an isolated Eoin Brosnan on his knees surrounded by eight Tyrone players with no help at hand from his team mates and nowhere to go. 

What we saw last Friday in that minor game was brutal stuff as far as I am concerned and if this is the modern game being coached into the younger players of to day then God help minor footballers. However it must be said in fairness to Cork they are playing to the strengths and methods that win games and in to day's world of sport, it's all about winning. Kerry's manager Mickey Ned o Sullivan has always expounded the view that this style of play is not for him and any team he has coached in recent years in particular Limerick he has always set out his men to play open, constructive, positive attacking football and has shunned coaching the swarm defensive play that has blighted to days game in most instances. Mick o Dwyer is another man who has avoided preaching the modern all defensive game.

However the bottom line now appears to be like it or loath it this is the way things are going to be and Donegal have won an All Ireland based on this philosophy. On the other hand Dublin appears to be a symbol of hope with their all attacking style.  Present day styles are greatly influenced by the advancement in fitness training or adoption drawn from other football codes.  So the cry is going up in many quarters, "if you can't beat them, join them".  There is a long year ahead for the Kerry minors, all is not lost by any means but a little bit more defensive style might be need if that long sought after All Ireland is to be captured. 

Back to last Fridays game and outside the first fifteen minutes there is little to enthuse about from a Kerry viewpoint.  In fairness you need a bit of luck also to go your way in most championship games and it's a small events in young minor minds that can swing the balance. Thomas o Se saw his shot brilliantly saved by Anthony Casey in the Cork goal in the very first minute. Kerry then kicked four lovely points to go ahead, six minutes gone, then disaster struck in the 10th minute. A bullet of a shot from Corks outstanding corner forward Michael Cahalane came back off the cross bar and there was so much power in the shot that it rebounded from the legs of Kerry's Eanna o Conchuir and into the net. Cork were back in the game. A swing of six points, a save and an o.g. Trailing 2-4 to 0-6 at the short whistle the home side got off to the worst possible start in the second half and it took a brilliantly engineered Cork goal which virtually sealed the Kerry fate. Cahalane again with a beautiful pin point cross field pass found the in rushing Kevin o Neill and the wing back crashed the ball past the helpless Shane Ryan in the Kerry net. It was a strange game in many respects. Kerry won the mid field battle, Michael Cahalane was unbeliveable the only Cork forward to score and yet thanks to that highly organized and well planned swarm defense they ended comfortable winners. Kerry should go to the Munster final and then win or lose go even further as so their progress will be followed with great interest. Derry are my favourites to win the minor title this year.

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