Thursday 22 February 2018

Colm Parkinson: Rebels' brave performance deserved more than a draw

Cork took the fight to out-of-sorts Kerry on Sunday - but have they blown their chance?

Cork’s Colm O’Neill attempts a free in the Munster final in Killarney
Cork’s Colm O’Neill attempts a free in the Munster final in Killarney

Colm Parkinson

Even though I have a long-standing grá for Kerry and despite having money on the draw, I couldn't help but root for Cork during the second half of last Sunday's Munster final.

Such a brave display deserved more. Cork had been written off by most pundits, went down by five in the first half, gave Kerry two cheap goals and still managed a draw. The question now is whether they have blown their chance. They probably have.

Eamonn Fitzmaurice has a lot of thinking to do. A big decision for him will be whether he plays his captain Kieran Donaghy for the replay. Eoin Cadogan did a good job on Donaghy but we know he struggles against smaller, faster forwards. Knowing how ruthless Fitzmaurice is, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw this change.

This doesn't mean Donaghy is dropped, just sits out one game. It's horses for courses and maybe someone like Darran O'Sullivan could cause Cadogan more problems. Paul Geaney has to start as well.

A big problem for Kerry was the half-forward line. There is no creativity on it whatsoever. Stephen O'Brien is very one-dimensional and neither Johnny Buckley nor Donnchadh Walsh (to a lesser extent) can give the type of ball a full-forward line needs. The quality of ball to Donaghy was very poor.

Gooch can but he didn't look to have the legs for it on Sunday and I understood his manager's decision to leave him off. The middle third in a Munster final is a difficult place to come on when you have been out for a year and a half and that showed. Why not give Cooper a job closer to goal?

Kerry's defence was very open and it still makes me laugh when pundits call them a defensive team. They left their full-back line exposed for most of the game. Despite this they performed very well - you can only do so much against Colm O'Neill and Donncha O'Connor without protection.

Paddy Kelly made a huge impact when he came on because he held the half-forward line. There was too much of a gap from midfield to Cork's full-forward line in the first half. Kerry defenders stood a yard or two in front of Brian Hurley and O'Neill and made it difficult for them.

With Kelly holding the half-forward line, Cork had an option there and Kelly, being a clever passer, could pick out better ball to the lads inside. Surely he starts the next day.

Let's hope for more of the same Saturday week. I'm not making a prediction yet; I'm still basking in the glory of backing a draw on Sunday, and spending my winnings!

Irish Independent

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