Pundits write off Corks chances in Munster Final

June 23rd, 2015
by Weeshie Fogarty

Well Tomas O Se certainly put the proverbial cat among the pidgins last week and stoked the Cork fires with that outburst in the media about Cork football and I would bet my bottom dollar as the yank said that the Kerry management won't be contacting him to say "thank you very much Thomas, that is going to be a great help to us in the run up to the Munster final". However while I believe his comments were ill timed I certainly was not surprised because the former great always wore his heart on his sleeve and since he became involved in media work following the hanging up of the boots has always spoken his mind on what he passionately believes in. And to me this is a trait that is very refreshing.

He gives Cork very little hope of beating Kerry on July 5th with a blast of "they appear to be rudderless both on the sideline and on the field". While he admits they are still dangerous and have the talent he goes as far as to say that "if Eamon Fitzmaurice was in charge of Cork, I think you'd have a different Cork". If the Rebels every needed that extra motivation or bigger push to come to Killarney with all guns blazing then they certainly got it with these remarks.

Maybe some Cork footballer followers might be questioning privately among themselves the performances of the players and management but they certainly will not be making statements to that effect in the media. Now the one thing that will hurt and sting the most is the fact that it was a Kerryman, one of the old enemy that came out and told them what is wrong with their footballers. That will hurt badly.

Thomas's blast across the gunnels of the Cork ship is in complete opposite to what Mick o Dwyer preached every time before and after his men faced the Rebels in those magical years when Kerry won every Munster title, with one exception from 1975 to 1986. A remarkable record and the Waterville man was always quoted as saying "Cork are the second best team in the country". Yes it might be seen by many as simply very patronizing remarks but in his own inimitable way Mick was already preparing for the following years clash with Cork.

 Indeed former Cork All Star and All Ireland medal winner in 1973 Denny Long was also very dismissive of the Cork challenge when he spoke to me on Radio Kerrys Terrace Talk last week as my panel reviewed Kerrys display against Tipperary. But the Stacks man was basing his observations on a completely different aspect of Cork football and the reasons he believed the county has underperformed in the past.

He maintained that the structures in Cork militate against managers getting the best out of his players for the championship. Denny's arguments are hard to dismiss. Cork are predominately a hurling county first and foremost, their record is there to prove this. There are 252 clubs in the county, many of then dual clubs and the players are expected to serve both masters.

Now when you hear talk of dual players you immediately associate this with men playing with their county for both codes. However what is forgotten is the fact that all Cork inter county football teams are calling on dual club players. It would make very intresting reading to see how many Cork minor and under 21 footballers over the last ten years were dual players with both club and county. And the big question then of course is how many failed to go on and make the Cork senior football team. We hear every day the problem of young men being overplayed.

Denny maintained that there are too many club games and its just not fair to players. Following their win over Clare in the championship Donnacha o Connor was out playing championship with Duhallow the following Tuesday evening. And how about this, the three o Driscoll brothers who all played for Cork against Clare come from the Tadge McCartihaig club but they all play senior hurling for Bishopstown. So can you imagine how difficult it is for them to juggle, travel and please three managers? Mark Collins Cork centre fordward plays for Castlehaven but plays senior hurling for Douglas. Surly some degree of fatigue will hit these players.

The Munster final could be an ambush waiting to happen, Brian Cuthbert the Cork manager was under plenty pressure to succeed following their defeat by Dublin in the league final and if ever he was given the motivation to beat Kerry then Thomas o Se's comments will surely add fuel to the Cork fire

Now maybe I am wrong but it appears to me that many of the media pundits are writing off the Cork challenge in the Munster final. Of course Eamon Fitzmaurice and his side line generals will not fall into this trap and will send out the boys professionally prepared as always. Cork lost the league final to Dublin, the red hot favourites for the All Ireland and yes Kerry hammered them last year in the Munster final. Now however Cuthbert will have learned some salutary lessons from these two losses and will surly have his men bettered prepared mentally and physically. 

They had a great league run and proved their strength, courage and determination with hard won wins away to Monaghan and Tyrone, beating Dublin and Kerry  and rattling up 4-11 against Donegal in the league semi-final. And we all know now just how great Donegal have turned out to be. So from where I stand this is a battle hardened panel of player that will come to Killarney on July 5th and the first thing they will see pinned on the back of their door is the headlines we all saw recently in the Examiner. "Cork lack leaders and are rudderless, blasts O Se".

Motivation, incentive, inspiration, controlled anger; surely we will see all of this from captain Kevin o Driscoll and his troops. Any other response will surly spell he finish  for many of these Cork men. It promises to be a memorable day in Beauties Home.

Radio Kerry - The Voice of the Kingdom