THE key question ahead of today's O'Sullivan Cup final replay between reigning champions Pobal Scoil Chorca Dhuibhne and St Brendan's College Killarney is whether or not the latter will pay for their sins of the past?
In last week's sometimes ill-tempered drawn final the red mist, as well as a heavy fog, descended on Austin Stack Park, where referee Paul Hayes issued three red cards - two to St Brendans and one to Pobal Scoil midfielder Eanna O Conchuir.
O Conchuir's dismissal was actually for a second yellow card so he will be available to play in this afternoon's match. Damien Lyne and Conor Keane will not. Keane was involved in the extra-time scuffle that led to O Conchuir's second yellow card, but the Legion man was deemed to have committed a more serious transgression, for which he received a red card. By that stage Lyne had spent over forty minutes on the sideline; Hayes issuing the wing back with a straight red card for an ill-advised headbutt on Pobal Scoil full forward Tomas O Se.
While Lyne's absence might be more easily absorbed, the loss of his Legion club mate Keane looks to be far more damaging. Keane was, by a distance, The Sem's liveliest forward last week and his contribution of two-thirds (six points) of St Brendan's final total has a huge bearing on the outcome. Four of those scores can from free kicks, which is significant in itself, and given the low scoring nature of the drawn match (nine points each over 80 minutes) converted frees are bound to have a major bearing on today's result.
To that end Pobal Scoil Chorca Dhuibhne have some work of their own to do. That wing back Maitiu O Flatharta finished the game's top scorer says much about their attacking unit, and while O Flatharta's contribution says something about the champions' versatility, the return of just three points from play from the starting six forwards must be of some concern to manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice. St Brendan's College goalkeeper Andrew O'Connor was hardly tested throughout, and given that the champions had over 30 minutes where they had an extra man at their dispossal (following Lyne's red card) there is certainly room for improvement from midfield up.
Of course, outside of Keane's contribution St Brendans only managed two points from play (from midfielder Jack O'Neill and corner forward Gavin Kelly) so manager Harry O'Neill will need to inspire his forwards into yielding much more in the scoring department. Whether or not they can do that without Keane remains the question.
The logic would say no, especially given the strength of the Pobal Scoil defence - four of the six backs started last year's Corn Ui Mhuiri final - but The Sem can take encouragement from their second half display when they outscored the champions by five points to three with just 14 players.
First and foremost there is a title and silverware at stake this afternoon, but both teams will also take this replay as another chance to improve ahead of next month's Corn Ui Mhuiri quarter-finals, for which both have qualified for.
For now, however, the odds look stacked against St Brendans, with two starters suspended, while the champions, PS Chorca Dhuibhne will feel they have greater scope for improvement, so the O'Sullivan Cup should remain in the Dingle school for another year.
VERDICT: Chorca Dhuibhne