Sunday 11 December 2016

Kerry scalp could make Rebels' season, insists ex-star Corrigan

Published 30/03/2016 | 02:30

Cork’s Michael Shields tussles with Kerry’s Paul Geaney during the drawn 2015 Munster final
Cork’s Michael Shields tussles with Kerry’s Paul Geaney during the drawn 2015 Munster final

It could hardly be more finely balanced for Cork.

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Win in Tralee against Kerry this weekend and they could enjoy the luxury of a league semi-final, something that would help bridge the seven-week gap between the last round of league matches and their championship opener.

Should they lose, they might be relegated on score difference and spend 2017 in Division 2. But then, such is the up-and-down nature of the Cork footballers these days, that perhaps it is a fitting scenario for them.

The form lines point to a Kerry win this weekend. They have won four games on the bounce since losing in the opening two rounds and will almost certainly make the last four while Cork have been consistently inconsistent.

Peadar Healy's men were brutal against Roscommon and brilliant for a while against Dublin. Depending on how you look at things, the glass is half-full or half-empty.

Like the rest of the county, former Rebel star Colman Corrigan has been frustrated by the lack of consistency but he prefers to look at the sunnier side of things.

"They have been up and down," Corrigan agreed. "And you'd be a bit worried about their intensity sometimes. Against Mayo they were good, even though you wouldn't be sure what they had out that day. In Donegal, although it's a hard place to go, they looked like they got bullied a bit.

"They got a bad drubbing from Roscommon but changed for Dublin in Croke Park and they played really well.

"You could say they should have won that match, so there has been a real inconsistency of performance."

"But they are finding their feet. It will take time for the new management to find a system that works for them.

"The back line is not tight enough at times. They are lovely footballers, very comfortable on the ball and great going forward but sometimes defensively that bit of boot, bol*x and bite is lacking a bit. And that can take time, particularly with the new fellas who are coming in."

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Some of Cork's results in recent seasons might see them travel to Tralee with some sense of trepidation.

And Corrigan agrees that some of those results, such as the qualifier defeat to Kildare last year and the 2013 league semi-final defeat to Dublin, where they led by eight points at half-time, will have left their mark on the mindset of the team.

"Some of those results must play on your mind. But I honestly believe that on their day they are capable of beating anybody. But the problem is the next week you have your heart in your mouth."

They can, however, travel to Tralee this weekend with some confidence. Their last two league meetings have ended with double-score wins for the Rebels and many in Cork will feel they should have beaten the Kingdom in the Munster championship last year.

"Hopefully they can get a win and a good performance going and that could be the start of it.

"You can have all the psychologists you want but there's nothing like winning a big game to build confidence.

"There's so much at stake this weekend, Cork could be relegated or they could be in the semi-finals and I wouldn't be surprised if they went to Tralee and won.

"And that could change their whole season. They have Tipperary in the championship and that's not a given anymore but the more games Cork get the better going into the championship."

Irish Independent

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