Monday 21 May 2018

O'Brien: Rebels will 'respond' to Kerry task

O’Brien: Wary of Cork threat. Photo: Sportsfile
O’Brien: Wary of Cork threat. Photo: Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Kerry hero Stephen O'Brien has warned his team-mates of the "quality" in the Cork squad ahead of their Munster final meeting early next month.

Kerry will face the Rebels in Killarney on July 2 after it was confirmed yesterday that the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh won't be finished in time to host the clash.

Having played with several of the Cork side in UCC, including Mark Collins, Kevin O'Driscoll and Barry O'Driscoll, O'Brien warned there will be a fire in their bellies after underwhelming performances against Waterford and Tipperary.

"We know the quality of those players. I was in college with a lot of the lads and they're class players," said O'Brien, who never beat Cork as an underage footballer with Kerry.

"They're going to respond definitely and we're going to have to be ready for them."

Kerry booked their place in the Munster final thanks to a strong second-half display. The Kingdom looked in a perilous position at half-time. They were level but had been reduced to 14 men after the sending-off of Donnchadh Walsh and had the breeze to play into in the second half.

However, they emerged a different side on the restart and after surviving a scare when Clare hit the bar, they controlled large portions of the second-half.

O'Brien grabbed their goal after a brilliant solo run as he reminded Eamonn Fitzmaurice of his talents with 1-1 off the bench. The Kenmare clubman revealed there was no panic in the Kingdom dressing room at half-time.

"I suppose we've been around the block a few times as well so lads just used a bit of experience and guile we've built up over the years.

"You couldn't have written a better script for us than having that adversity because you can't fake it, that only happens in Championship.

"It's great that's under our belts now for the next day."

O'Brien insisted that the Brendan O'Sullivan saga didn't distract them in the build-up to the game that had seen them go 10 weeks without playing competitively.

"I don't think it impacted us too much," he reflected.

"We felt for Brendan because he's a key member of our squad, a great man behind the scenes, a great character.

"We felt for him and tried to rally around him.

"There wasn't too much said about it, there wasn't too much said."

He believes the episode will have heightened awareness in the Kerry squad and in panels across the country about what they can and cannot take.

"I've been around now for two or three years, maybe a little more, so I would never touch anything that wasn't brought through the Kerry set-up.

"Brendan, it was his first year on the panel, so maybe it was a small bit of naivety.

"But without a doubt now, everyone knows the lay of the land."

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