Munster SFC Preview: Cork are ready to take charge
Cork hold the upper hand in Munster and could be ready to assume control in the province.
All-Ireland titles: 0
Munster titles: 2 (most recent 1992)
Manager: Colm Collins (first season)
Captain: Gary Brennan
Last year: Clare 1-11, Cork 1-20 (Munster semi-final); Clare 0-10, Laois 3-17 (qualifiers Rd 2)
2014 NFL: Second in Division 4: P7, W5, D1, L1; Lost to Tipperary 1-16 to 1-15 in league final
Last big championship achievement: Munster champions, 1992
Key man: David Tubridy. So often the go-to man for the Banner, Tubridy totalled 1-30 in their league campaign.
Who could make a name for himself? Colm Collins. Did a fine job in his first year in the managerial hot-seat with Cratloe when almost toppling Dr Crokes in the Munster club final and he seems to have the Banner going in the right direction with their first promotion in 19 years.
Prospects: Promotion from Division 4 gives them momentum going into a must-win game with Waterford at home. After that, however, they would be welcoming Kerry to Ennis.
Betting: Munster 250/1; All-Ireland 1000/1
First game: June 7/8 versus Waterford (Cusack Park, Ennis)
All-Ireland titles: 7 (2010)
Munster titles: 37 (2012)
Manager: Brian Cuthbert (first season)
Captain: Michael Shields
Last year: Cork 3-17, Limerick 0-8 (Munster quarter-final); Cork 1-20, Clare 1-11 (Munster semi-final); Cork 0-17 Kerry 1-16 (Munster final); Cork 1-17 Galway 1-16 (qualifiers Rd 4); Cork 0-14 Dublin 1-16 (AI quarter-final)
2014 NFL: Won Division 1: P7 W5 D1 L1; Beaten in league semi-final by Dublin, 2-20 to 2-13
Last big championship achievement: 2012 Munster champions
Key man: Aidan Walsh. With the retirements of Alan O'Connor, Pearse O'Neill and Graham Canty, Cork have lost a lot of experienced players around midfield and the way Dublin cleaned them out in that sector in the league semi-final means the Kanturk man is a crucial cog.
Who could make a name for himself? Kevin Crowley was the only U-21 player named in a 28-strong championship squad. A pacy wing-back, his senior appearances have been limited by the Rebels' run to the U-21 semi-final but he impressed when introduced against Dublin in the league in March.
Prospects: Undoubtedly serious All-Ireland contenders, but their league semi-final defeat against Dublin where they coughed up a 10-point lead to lose by seven poses some major questions. Underage results in recent years suggest they could be ready to take charge in Munster
Betting: Munster 4/5; All-Ireland 13/2
First game: June 21 versus Tipperary/ Limerick (Pairc Ui Chaoimh)
All-Ireland titles: 36 (2009)
Munster titles: 75 (2013)
Manager: Eamonn Fitzmaurice (second season)
Captain: Kieran O'Leary
Last year: Kerry 2-19, Tipperary 0-8 (Munster quarter-final); Kerry 4-21, Waterford 1-4 (Munster semi-final); Kerry 1-16, Cork 0-17 (Munster final); Kerry 0-15 Cavan 0-9 (AI quarter-final); Kerry 3-11 Dublin 3-18 (AI semi-final).
2014 NFL: Sixth in Division 1: P7, W3, D0, L4
Last big championship achievement: 2013 Munster champions
Key man: James O'Donoghue. After a strong showing in 2013 and in the absence of Colm Cooper, he'll be a marked man. But when he fired this spring, so did Kerry.
Who could make a name for himself? Paul Murphy. A tenacious defender at corner-back who has seen plenty of league action in his debut season.
Prospects: Cork have the upper hand in Munster as it stands but despite a topsy-turvy league Kerry will still expect to be in the shake-up when the last eight comes around and they have enough quality to take on anyone. Whether they can go beyond that depends on the form of some significant figures such as Declan O'Sullivan and Kieran Donaghy, who are yet to return.
Betting: Munster 11/8; All-Ireland 10/1
First game: June 21/22 versus Clare/ Waterford (Ennis/Dungarvan)
All-Ireland titles: 2 (1896)
Munster titles: 1 (1896)
Manager: John Brudair (first season)
Captain: Seanie Buckley
Last year: Limerick 0-8, Cork 3-17 (Munster quarter-final); Limerick 0-8, Longford 2-14 (qualifiers Rd 1)
2014 NFL: Sixth in Division 3: P7, W3, D0, L4
Last big championship achievement: 1896 All-Ireland winners
Key man: Johnny McCarthy. Experienced, classy defender who was just one of two players – along with Paudie Browne – to play every minute of the league.
Who could make a name for himself? Eoin Hanrahan. A newcomer to the side, the forward featured in every league game.
Prospects: Less than inspiring after a league campaign that saw them finish just about the relegation places. They have home advantage against Tipperary in their opening tie but look to have slipped back from where they were at the end of the last decade, when they almost snatched a long-awaited Munster title.
Betting: Munster 100/1; All-Ireland 750/1
First game: May 31 versus Tipperary (Gaelic Grounds)
All-Ireland titles: 4 (1920)
Munster titles: 9 (1935)
Manager: Peter Creedon (third season)
Captain: Paddy Codd
Last year: Tipperary 0-8, Kerry 2-19 (Munster quarter-final); Tipperary 0-11, Galway 1-12 (qualifiers Rd 1)
2014 NFL: Won Division 4: P7, W5, D1, L1; Defeated Clare 1-16 to 1-15 in league final.
Last big championship achievement: Tommy Murphy Cup winners in 2005
Key man: Conor Sweeney hit 5-41 in the league proper and was top scorer across all four divisions.
Who could make a name for himself? Michael Quinlivan was one of the 2011 All-Ireland winning minor side fast-tracked into the senior set-up. He spent last summer in the US but was in good form for the U-21s earlier this year and could be ready to deliver a big summer for the senior side.
Prospects: Will have targeted a win over Limerick in the opening round for the team who look best placed to close the gap between the big two and the rest.
Betting: Munster 100/1; All-Ireland 1000/1
First game: May 31 versus Limerick (Gaelic Grounds)
All-Ireland titles: 0
Munster titles: 1 (1898)
Manager: Niall Carew (second season)
Captain: Shane Briggs
Last year: Waterford 1-4, Kerry 4-21 (Munster semi-final); Waterford 0-14, Galway 1-12 (qualifiers Rd 2)
2014 NFL: Fifth in Division 4: P7, W2, D1, L4
Last big championship achievement: A win over Clare in 2007 was the county's first success in Munster in 19 years.
Key man: Paul Whyte. The large void left by the retirement of Gary Hurney will take some filling but Whyte is the county's marquee footballer.
Who could make a name for himself? Liam O Lionain. An unusual pick in that he has been around for a while but has been dogged by injury. Was coming into form the at the end of the league and if he gets a clear run at the summer, he can show he's a quality player.
Prospects: Can cling on to last year's near miss against Galway when perhaps they should have finished the job and pulled off one of the shocks of the championship. League results didn't frank that form, however.
Betting: Munster 500/1; All-Ireland 2000/1
First game: June 7/8 v Clare (Cusack Park, Ennis)
Irish Independent Supplement