Geary: Cork have to bring 'ferocity' to dethrone Cats
Former Cork camogie star Anna Geary has called on Paudie Murray's charges to adopt a ferocious attitude as they bid to turn the tables on Kilkenny and claim All-Ireland glory on Sunday.
Kilkenny stunned Cork in last year's final to shatter the Munster side's three-in-a-row bid and end the Noresiders' 22-year wait to reclaim the coveted O'Duffy Cup.
Since then, Ann Downey's side have consolidated their position as the top side in the country with a league final win against their bitter rivals earlier this year.
Geary, who called time on her inter-county career in May 2015 at the age of 27, believes Cork must at least match Kilkenny physically if they are to dethrone the favourites at Croke Park this weekend (4.0).
"Cork need to adopt a ferocity because Kilkenny will bring that. Kilkenny bring a bit of swagger with them but they match it on the field," she said. "While Cork have it in their heads, I just hope they are willing to take the hits and they're willing to go in hard because I expect that's Ann Downey's game-plan - to hit Cork hard.
"You can really see there is an intense rivalry starting to brew between the sides. Last year's All-Ireland final was very unique in that Kilkenny hadn't been at the top for a long, long time so they were coming in as massive underdogs."
The almost-certain absence of centre-back and nine-time All-Star Gemma O'Connor through injury puts a major dent in Cork's ambitions to win the All-Ireland for a 27th time, with Geary predicting that Ashling Thompson may switch from midfield to No 6 in a reshuffle.
The likely loss of O'Connor, the fulcrum of the Cork defence, who was sent off in last year's decider, swings the pendulum further towards the black and amber. However, how Kilkenny handle having a target on their backs could have a significant impact on the outcome, Geary believes.
"I think Gemma's absence, and my understanding is that she can play no part, is obviously a massive blow for the girls, particularly the younger girls who probably look to Gemma to give her the ball, and also for leadership," the four-time All-Ireland winner added. "But Cork have a composure that comes from playing in All-Ireland finals.
"They're never dead. They could be six, seven points down and they never panic and you can't learn that. You see the likes of Orla Cotter, Rena Buckley, Aoife Murray… these girls know how to win games, they know how to close out games and that's something that they will have over Kilkenny.
"I'm interested to see how Kilkenny cope with that favourites' tag. There's a pressure on now that they wouldn't have had. Kilkenny won the All-Ireland last year and it was brilliant and full credit to them. But the respect comes when you've done it a few times."