Kenny eager to return to winning ways
TOM Kenny admits that the victory over Clare in the Munster semi final was one of the sweetest he has ever tasted in a Cork jersey.
Involved since 2003, the 32 year-old Grenagh clubman enjoyed considerable success when he initially gained recognition at senior inter-county level, winning three Munster and two All-Ireland medals during his first four years on the team, but Cork's fortunes went into decline following the 2006 All-Ireland final defeat by Kilkenny, and Kenny accepts the general perception at the start of the season was that a return to the glory days wasn't imminent.
So, he was delighted with the win over Clare, and he feels it has done much to heighten optimism among Rebel supporters regarding the team's immediate prospects.
"It was definitely up there with some of the more pleasing victories, because nobody saw it coming, although we always believed as a group that we could win it. It was probably similar to my debut game in the championship against Clare in 2003 when everyone was writing us off and we had a good performance up in Thurles which kinda set us up for the rest of the season.
"I believe the hype and excitement in the county since we qualified for the Munster final has to be a positive thing, and maybe if we can tap into that, it will give us additional momentum going forward."
Kenny will be appearing in his sixth Munster final next Sunday, and he says he's probably looking forward to it more than any he has played in before.
"I suppose as you grow older, you tend to appreciate the big games a lot more, because you are aware time is no longer on your side. Who's to say that this won't be my last Munster final, maybe it will and maybe it won't, but I certainly intend to enjoy it as much as I can.
"I'm the oldest player in the dressing room now, but I don't see that any extra responsibility comes with that, because there are few others guys who have also been around a while, and we all try to do our bit in terms of providing leadership. In fairness to the younger fellas, they are all stepping up to the plate, and you had Seamus Harnedy making his championship debut and getting some fantastic scores the last day
"That was great to see, and I think the fellas brought into the panel last year have made good progress, and to win a Munster medal on Sunday would really stand to them, but Limerick are in much the same boat as ourselves, they are an up-and-coming team, they are very hungry for success, and their confidence has been boosted enormously following a semi final win against the odds over Tipperary.
"It has the making of a great Munster final between two teams convinced they are in with a decent chance, and I honestly believe it's wide open."
With home advantage, Limerick will possibly be going in as slight favourites, but Kenny says it isn't something that bothers Cork.
"Playing at home brings a certain amount of pressure with it, especially for a young team, and it could work against Limerick, but, whether or which, we are expecting to have strong support, and I don't think the venue will militate against our chances."
While Limerick's win over Tipp opened up the Munster championship, Kenny contends that a provincial title was a realistic target for Cork even before the holders and favourites were eliminated.
"We probably aimed to win Munster last year as well, and we came within a whisker of beating Tipp, although they were slightly better than us on the day. You always believe when you are playing with Cork, you can beat any team in the championship on a given day That's how it was for us at the start of the year, and it certainly hasn't changed now that we are in a Munster final."