Wednesday 21 February 2018

Cleary feels Rebels will be up against it

Cork manager John Cleary. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
Cork manager John Cleary. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Noel Horgan

CORK manager John Cleary is under no illusions about the difficult nature of the task ahead, and he suggests that Tipperary are probably entitled to start as slight favourites in the Munster Under 21 football final.

"It's going to be a really tough one, and I think we'll have to play better than in our previous two games in order to get over Tipp in Thurles on Wednesday night. During the games against Limerick and Kerry, we looked excellent at times, but there were other times we looked poor, and I'd have to say we haven't been as consistent as we would like up to now. But the main thing is we won those matches, and we're pleased to be in the final, but maybe not overly pleased with our performances, so we are just hoping we will be able to bring it up a notch against Tipp.

"If we can do that, and we play as well as we are capable of playing, I believe we'll be in with a great shout, but if we don't perform to our full potential, we won't win, it's as simple as that," said Cleary, who expects to have a full squad to pick from for the showdown with the Premier County side.

"Tom Clancy and Alan Cronin are both carrying injuries from the last game, and, while it's touch and go with them at the moment, we are hoping they will be ready."

Based on their record against Cork in the minor championship over the past few years, Cleary contends that Tipp are entitled to fancy their chances, but he is satisfied his players are fully aware of the threat to their bid to bring a third consecutive provincial title to Leeside.

"Most of our lads have tasted defeat at Tipp's hands at minor level, and going back further at u-16 level as well, so they are really geared up for this one. Tipp have beaten Cork at minor three times over the last four years, they have about eight or nine of the team that won the minor All-Ireland two years ago, and they are playing at home, so, whatever the betting on the game might be, I don't think there is any concrete reason to think we are the favourites."

Cleary says that Tipp are essentially a well-balanced side, but he is aware that also they possess a number of exceptional footballers, including the likes of Bill Maher, Liam McGrath and Michael Quinlivan

"McGrath and Quinlivan are two very serious players in the full forward line, while Philip Quirke is back after injury at centre-forward, and he is another key man for them. Look, most the Tipp players have won All-Ireland minor medals, which is something that none of our fellas have, and you'd have to say we are going to have our work cut out to beat them. Heading up to Thurles makes it a small bit more difficult, but we knew at the start of the season what we would be facing if we got over Kerry and Limerick.

"It's what we have prepared for all year, and we're just delighted to be there, and if every player gives it 100% on the night, hopefully it will be good enough to get us home," he concluded.


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