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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 11 December, 2018

Selection Box - What choices face Kerry and Cork when picking their Munster final teams?

Plenty for Éamonn Fitzmaurice and Peadar Healy to ponder.

pjimage (1) Kerry and Cork prepare to go into football battle.

ON FRIDAY EVENING, both Éamonn Fitzmaurice and Peadar Healy will unveil their starting Kerry and Cork teams for Sunday’s Munster football final.

There’s plenty intrigue surrounding what players are pushed into action as Fitzmaurice seeks to complete a provincial five-in-a-row for Kerry while Healy seeks to mastermind an upset for Cork.

And both managers have much to consider since their respective semi-final wins over Clare and Tipperary.


David Moran was a towering figure in the league final success over Dublin but cried off through injury before the Clare match. Jack Barry, one of Kerry’s best discoveries in the spring, was ushered in to replace him. Throw Anthony Maher into the mix and there’s a midfield dilemma to mull over.

In attack Stephen O’Brien lit up the second half with a 1-1 return in the semi-final and will be pushing hard for a starting berth. Jack Savage, another substitute introduced that day, is out of the reckoning after undergoing an appendix operation.

The goalkeeping slot has been in a state of constant flux in Kerry in recent seasons. Will Fitzmaurice stick with Brian Kelly from that win over the Banner or turn to Brendan Kealy who was between the posts in April’s league final triumph?

Then there’s the wealth of experience Kerry have in reserve. Captain Johnny Buckley, Bryan Sheehan and Kieran Donaghy all only came on in the last 10 minutes against Clare, while Darran O’Sullivan and Jonathan Lyne were both unused at the Ennis venue.

The Kerry players break away from the team photo The Kerry players break away from their team photo against Clare. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO


On the face of it, there are trickier choices for Healy to make to his starting side, particularly in the light of how Cork’s replacements sparkled against Tipperary and were instrumental in turning the game in their direction.

There will definitely be one change to their team as a dislocated shoulder has struck down wing-forward Brian O’Driscoll. Cork can call again upon midfielders Alan O’Connor and Aidan Walsh – suspended and injured respectively for the Tipperary match – but will the partnership of Ian Maguire and Ruairi Deane be broken up?

Three of Cork’s substitutes had a huge impact against Tipperary – Barry O’Driscoll, Sean Powter and Mark Colllins. All three are versatile operators. O’Driscoll and Powter provide an option in the half-back or half-forward lines, Collins can slip in to midfield or in the half-forward line.

Mark Collins Cork footballer Mark Collins Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

It was notable against Tipperary that they all brought different elements to Cork’s play. O’Driscoll was able to break Tipperary’s defensive shield, Powter showed blistering pace in defensive retreat or on the attacking front foot, while Collins creativity was best summed up by his rich contribution to the move for the match-winning goal from Luke Connolly.

All three will push hard for inclusion while there’s also contenders in the forward line in Donncha O’Connor, who offers assurance in front of the posts, and Michael Hurley, who is another that can inject pace to the forward line.

On both sides there is plenty to ponder.

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Fintan O'Toole

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