Wednesday 21 August 2019

Kingdom to secure seven-in-a-row but Rebels can plant revival shoots

Kingdom boss Peter Keane. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Kingdom boss Peter Keane. Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Brian Cuthbert tried three times, but didn't get there. Peadar Healy missed the target with his one shot. Ronan McCarthy had a similar bad experience with his opening attempt, but has a second chance this evening.

Grim times for Cork managers in a rivalry with Kerry that has become lopsided. Without a win over the Kingdom since 2012 and Division 3 action beckoning next year, it has been a very long time since Cork football's stock was valued so low.

A dramatic boost is urgently required, but it's difficult to see it coming this evening, certainly not in the form of a win.

But then times have changed in Cork, so a good performance and anything less than a four- or five-point defeat would be regarded as progress.

It would set them up for a decent shot in the Round 4 qualifiers, where a win secures a place in the 'Super 8s'.

That would be a significant achievement after missing out on the quarter-finals for the last four seasons. It's some shock to the system after reaching the last eight for the previous ten seasons.

The most disappointing aspect of Cork's recent engagements with Kerry has been their failure to be competitive. They lost by 17 points last year and by 11 the year before on days when Kerry weren't flattered by the big wins.

Can Cork can summon something different now and begin the fightback?

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They spotted some hopeful signs when hitting Limerick for 3-18 in the semi-final and while beating Division 4 opposition wouldn't normally be seen as significant, every little helps in Cork's confidence-building process.

Peter Keane will have noted the attack's high yield against Limerick and with doubts still surrounding his defence, he knows that this is a decent test of their security arrangements.

If it's an important game for Cork in terms of re-establishing their pride, it's crucial for Kerry in what they hope will be an impressive launch into the Super 8s.

Many regard them as the most likely outfit to derail Dublin's five-in-a-row ambitions, even if there are doubts about their true worth.

The sloppy second half performance against Clare in the Munster semi-final will have greatly encouraged Cork, especially the final 20 minutes which the Banner won by 0-8 to 0-2.

Kerry are overwhelming favourites to retain control over Cork and will probably do so, albeit by a sufficiently slim margin to leave the Rebels in a good frame of mind for the qualifiers.

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