Tuesday 12 December 2017

Morgan: Rebels ready to dominate Munster

Former Cork goalkeepers Billy Morgan and Ger Cunningham at the launch of Bord Gáis Energy Legends Tour Series
Former Cork goalkeepers Billy Morgan and Ger Cunningham at the launch of Bord Gáis Energy Legends Tour Series
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

WHEN Billy Morgan led Cork to their last championship win in Killarney, it capped a golden era for football in the county.

That was back in 1995 when Cork collected their record seventh Munster title in nine years, a success that would prove to be the conclusion of an unprecedented period of dominance over Kerry.

And with both sides in something of a transition, Morgan suggests that Sunday's Munster SFC final in Fitzgerald Stadium could be the start of something big for the Rebels as the province's big two clash once more.

"Yeah, they could (dominate), but we have said it before and Kerry have come back. When the two O Ses go, Aidan O'Mahony, Paul Galvin, the 'Gooch' – when those players go, do they have the players to fill their boots?" said Morgan.

"We have had those questions before about other Kerry teams and they've always come back in some way, but it's an opportunity for Cork to dominate Munster from here."

A new generation of players are set to take over this rivalry. Cork named five championship debutants in their first outing of the year, while Kerry handed a start to Fionn Fitzgerald.

Mark Griffin will make his championship debut for the Kingdom on Sunday and, with other relative newcomers like Johnny Buckley being handed increased responsibility, it all points to a changing of the guard.

If the names have changed a little, so could the tactical approach.

Cork hinted at a more defensive outlook in the league after they came unstuck in the All-Ireland semi-final against Donegal. However, Morgan insists that finding the right starting team is of more importance.

"I would hope they wouldn't go defensive from a traditional point of view," he said. "Against Limerick and Clare they ran up big scores, though you might say the opposition mightn't be the strongest.

"I presume they played in those two games the way they intend to play (this year). They should have a Plan B if things aren't working out.

"When they beat Kildare in the All-Ireland quarter-final last year I couldn't see anybody beating them; then they came up against Donegal and didn't handle the defensive system, so since then they have tried different systems in the league and hopefully they have come up with something.

"I still think they have the players. Midfield, like in all football games, will be important and finding a partner for Aidan Walsh is vital. Graham Canty has been playing there and might be a good partner for him. Pearse O'Neill has also been playing there.

"(Former Antrim footballer) James Loughrey has been a real capture. He has played with Ulster and has pace, power and strength and could add an awful lot to Cork from the half-back line."

Kerry will be without first-choice centre-back Eoin Brosnan and full-back O'Mahony, and Morgan sees Cork's attack as having sufficient fire-power to trouble the Kingdom's reshuffled defence, even in the absence of the luckless Colm O'Neill.

"Kerry started poorly enough in the league, but they had new management, they were bringing in new players and they finished strongly," he said.

"When I heard of Colm (Cooper) on the '40' first I said, 'the further he is from goal the better for us'.


"But looking at him against Tipperary, he ran the show. He had good inside-forwards and was giving them very good ball and they have a strong midfield that have come through.

"Johnny Buckley I would know from UCC. He is a fine player, and Anthony Maher has improved. But I wonder if their defence has been tested yet?

"Colm is a big loss, but Daniel Goulding is back. Donncha O'Connor has only been coming on as a sub, Paul Kerrigan is there, Brian Hurley is coming in.

"Last year they nearly had an embarrassment of riches in the full-forward line. They still have those players, they still have the forwards."

Irish Independent

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