Ladies can expect to beat Cork
THEE was a time not that long ago that a Kerry versus Cork encounter would put fear into most ardent Kerry ladies football fans but with a recent run of good results against the Rebels most Kerry supporters will travel to Limerick with expectations of a victory next Sunday.
Kerry topped the group comfortably while Cork for a second year in a row ended up just fourth but that was a position in which they won the league title last season.
Kerry will do well to note that the teams that top the league table usually fail to win the title as Monaghan will contest to in recent years.
However despite the claims of both managers that next Sunday's clash is just another game, it will surely set down a marker for how these teams' seasons will unfold. Cork have not hit the highs of recent years and while they continue to be a defensive rock with Phelan, Walsh, Flynn and O'Reilly still the best around they have struggled at midfield to replace Juliet Murphy.
Eamon Ryan's answer has been to recall Norita Kelly and bring Breige Corkery to Midfield. It's a department that they struggled in against Kerry in the league and with Bernie Breen slowly gathering deserved recognition as one of the finest midfielders around it is a place where Kerry will hope to dominate.
Cork too have struggled in the forwards department as Ryan still looks to find a settled full forward line but Emma Farmer and Valerie Mulcahy will still pose a threat if given the correct ball. Mulcahy in particular has been important for Cork this season as Cork still wait for Ciara O'Sullivan, Eimear Scally and Doireann O'Sullivan to realise their potential.
Kerry have a settled look about them with Aislinn Desmond, Cait Lynch and Louise Galvin all having fine seasons. However like Cork, Kerry have yet to really fire in the full forward line with Sarah Houlihan and Louise Ni Mhuirtceartaigh finding the extra attention as All Stars a little hard to shake and again on Sunday they will get some extra attention.
There is no doubt that both sides will bring a slightly more physical approach to the game and Referee Maggie Doherty may well play a big role. Having not reffed a game above Division 3 and not above Junior Level last season, the Wexford native will need to be her best to keep these foes apart
In a week when Kerry failed to reach the U-16 and Minor Munster finals, there may be extra pressure on Kerry to deliver a performance and O'Sullivan will be aware that his team now have a real strength in-depth with Caroline Kelly, Aisling Leonard and Aoife Lyons all ready to play a part.
A defeat may not be the end of the road for either side on Sunday but a Kerry win will mean more to them and maybe that might well be the difference.