'I definitely do think they're capable of turning them over' - Colm O'Neill rates Cork's chances against Kerry highly
This time last year Colm O’Neill (right) was concentrating solely on Munster SFC final preparations but a lot has changed in the past 12 months.
One of the most potent attackers in the game when fully fit, O’Neill was forced to call time on his days with the Rebels at the end of last season after injury finally broke him down.
The effects of three cruciate knee ligament surgeries took their toll and the 30-year-old was forced to call it quits, although he quickly filled the void with management.
He could scarcely have envisaged being part of the Cork U-20 backroom team – while playing in goal with the junior footballers in Ballyclough – and it’s clear that early retirement hasn’t dimmed his passion for the game.
O’Neill, an All-Ireland SFC winner in 2010, will be the most interested of spectators in Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Saturday night for their Munster decider with Kerry and he doesn’t see it unfolding as most predict.
Kerry are red-hot favourites (1/8) to prevail but Ronan McCarthy's side have a recent challenge game victory over All-Ireland champions Dublin under their belts and O’Neill is urging them to "go for the jugular".
"I'm getting the sense from people I'm chatting to in the street and things, I definitely think there’s belief in the squad. I definitely do think they're capable of turning them over," a confident O’Neill said.
"I was at the Limerick match and the way Cork played, they were feeling sharp and they took the game, they didn't sit back. They actually went after Limerick.
"I hope they can go and... if you sit back and draw Kerry on to you, with the forwards they have they’re going to punish you so I'd hope that they go after Kerry and go for the jugular.
"But I don't mean go for it in terms of everyone driving forward, it would be going for it similar to the way they went for it against Limerick. They weren’t totally open at the back but they weren’t (defensive).
"In the first few league games, they were sitting back trying a sweeper which probably isn’t Cork’s style. They weren't sure how to play it and it probably cost them in the latter stages of the league."
Speaking at the launch of the EirGrid U-20 Football All-Ireland Championship, O’Neill believes Cork are "in better shape" than last year and that a 'Super 8s' place is attainable.
"They have a stronger panel this year so a realistic goal at the start of the year was to make the Super 8s," he said. "If they can get there, it's going to be a huge benefit to them. They’ll have three extra games."