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James O Donoghue pictured during the 2015 Munster SFC Final replay between Kerry and Cork.
James O Donoghue pictured during the 2015 Munster SFC Final replay between Kerry and Cork.

Preview: Munster SFC Final - Kerry v Cork


Sunday July 2

Munster Senior Football Championship Final

Kerry v Cork, Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney, 2pm

Almost unnoticed Kerry are on the verge of claiming a fifth Munster SFC title in a row. Since 2009 Cork have only triumphed once down south with Kerry taking six crowns in that spell.

Keeping the green and gold on top is Eamonn Fitzmaurice’s brief, but Cork can be dangerous foes especially when the expectations appear low Leeside.

Peadar Healy’s outfit were fortunate to survive two awkward assignments en route to this decider, but Cork still won. In Championship fare it is all that truly matters.

When Conor Sweeney guided Tipperary ahead in the closing stages Cork were under severe pressure. Within seconds, though, Luke Connolly bagged an opportunistic goal. Healy remains adamant about te ‘resilience’ of this Cork crop.

“I had that belief in them — this crowd are resilient,” was Healy’s verdict. “We had the momentum and that goal went against the run of play.

“Then, 22 seconds later, the ball was in the Tipp net. That just showed how resilient this group of players are. Give me a better goal than that this year and I’d love to have a look at it.”

There was composure and class in the way Cork transferred the ball upfield and Kerry manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice felt that their second half display was effective.

"There are a lot of things that come into play,” Fitzmaurice says. “First of all, they can be inconsistent, definitely, but when they are playing well, as they showed in the second half of the Tipperary game in particular, they are as good as they have ever been.

"I think they are quite close, to be honest, a lot closer than people think they are. You can see flashes of play, you can see that they are working hard on their game, but it hasn’t clicked to the extent that they want yet."

Kerry encountered a bit of bother at the penultimate stage themselves against a committed Clare side, who had thundered into the action in the opening period.

Donnchadh Walsh’s sending off before half-time was a blow, but Kerry closed out the game admirably with James O’Donoghue in splendid form, while Steven O’Brien pinched the insurance goal late on.

Having secured the Allianz Football League in April, expectation and hope is attached to an emerging crop of footballers in Kerry.

David Moran missed the Clare victory with a calf problem, but is set to return at centrefield for Kerry, who will be hoping for another score laden contribution from O’Donoghue.

Injuries have ravaged O’Donoghue’s last two Championship campaigns, but his nine point haul in Ennis was as important as it was impressive.

Paul Geaney carries a potent threat too for Kerry, who will be eager to nullify the influence of Paul Kerrigan and Connolly at the opposite end.

Kerrigan’s direct running has created problems previously, but Kerry’s defence is blessed with mobile footballers, who will be seeking to attack also.

There is a good cut to Kerry, but Cork will be gunning to make a statement in Killarney.

KERRY: Brian Kelly; Fionn Fitzgerald, Mark Griffin, Shane Enright; Peter Crowley, Tadhg Morley, Paul Murphy; David Moran, Anthony Maher; Michael Geaney, Kevin McCarthy, Donnchadh Walsh; Paul Geaney, Kieran Donaghy, James O'Donoghue.

CORK: Ken O'Halloran; James Loughrey, Jamie O'Sullivan, Sean Powter; Tomas Clancy, Michael Shields, Kevin Crowley; Aidan Walsh, Ian Maguire; Ruairi Deane, Mark Collins, Kevin O'Driscoll; Colm O'Neill, Luke Connolly, Paul Kerrigan.

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