5 talking points before Kerry and Cork get set for another Munster final collision

We’re getting set for the second instalment of the counties clash in Killarney.

Cork and Kerry players battle for possession in the drawn game.
Cork and Kerry players battle for possession in the drawn game.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

1. Kerry’s big selection calls

Éamonn Fitzmaurice shuffled his pack after their semi-final against Tipperary in making five changes but it didn’t result in the desired performance in the drawn game. He’s ripped up the team sheet again here to make four switches for tomorrow.

They’ve gone for defensive experience (Aidan O’Mahony), a 2014 breakout performer (Paul Murphy), midfield muscle (Anthony Maher) and an attacking edge (Paul Geaney). There seems a general consensus that Kerry will push on yet Fitzmaurice will be most keen to see an attitude improvement.

His selection calls stress the need for Kerry to establish a platform in the half-back line and midfield, areas they were previously troubled in by Cork. This time Kerry will hope the switches pay off.

2. Cork’s need to scale the heights again

There’s a common argument in the GAA when an underdog is pegged back by a favourite for a draw, that the best chance of an upset has passed them by. It was peddled in the wake of the Munster final draw that Cork’s best opportunity was gone and the intervening fortnight has been filled with talk of how Kerry have the greater scope for improvement.

It’s a dangerous assumption to automatically make. Cork traditionally have a good record in replays against Kerry over the last decade. They have their own areas to work on given their lack of points from play in the first-half and slump in standards before the break. Brian Hurley is an example of a player who can pack a stronger punch this time.

After the draw, Brian Cuthbert was at pains to point out that it was not good enough for the county to have produced one positive showing and not follow it up by completing the job. Cork will want to confirm they have a squad of stature tomorrow.

Brian Cuthbert at the end of the game Cork boss Brian Cuthbert Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

3. Cork’s running from deep and Kerry’s efforts to thwart them

If there was one significant trend in the drawn match, it was the joy Cork found in their counter-attacking and running from deep to make incisions in the Kerry defence. Barry O’Driscoll was Cork’s figurehead in that regard but others also shone like Kevin O’Driscoll in snapping a pair of points and Michael Shields in surging forward for the third goal.

The players Kerry have picked from numbers 8-12 suggest they will be inclined to press Cork, stop them at source and prevent them from heaping pressure on an overworked defence. It will be fascinating to see if players like the O’Driscoll trio can be as dominant in this regard again.

Barry O'Driscoll with Stephen O'Brien Cork's Barry O'Driscoll starred in the drawn game. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

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4. Kerry’s 2014 full-forward line link up once more

James O’Donoghue’s injury travails and Paul Geaney’s omission the last day mean we haven’t see that pair flank their team captain Kieran Donaghy from the start this summer. The trio who all played critical roles in Kerry’s 2014 glories are back in operation tomorrow evening.

Kerry will want to service Donaghy with a better supply, ensure O’Donoghue isn’t as starved of the ball as he was in the second-half the last day and get Geaney involved to keep Cork guessing.

Cork’s full-back line of James Loughrey, Eoin Cadogan and Stephen Cronin dealt capably with challenges the last day while Paul Kerrigan and Mark Collins put in useful shifts as sweepers. Tomorrow represents a new challenge.

Eoin Cadogan with Kieran Donaghy Cork's Eoin Cadogan and Kerry's Kieran Donaghy. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

5. A tough backdoor route raises the stakes

There’s more than just provincial silverware on offer tomorrow night. Victory will propel one side in to an All-Ireland quarter-final meeting with Westmeath or Fermanagh on the August Bank Holiday weekend.

That’s in contrast to the challenge for the losers in picking themselves up off the floor and getting set for a collision with Kildare a week later. If they manage to overcome that hurdle, the Dublin juggernaut beckons at the All-Ireland last eight stage. Tomorrow is a defining game for both Cork and Kerry.

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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