Sunday 18 August 2019

Ger Cunningham feels Cork may be the team best placed to topple Limerick if they take Kilkenny scalp

Cork manager John Meyler
Cork manager John Meyler

Tony Considine

Cork may be odds on favourites for Sunday’s All-Ireland quarter-final clash with Kilkenny with some bookies pricing them at 8/15. But former Rebels player and coach Ger Cunningham has sent out a message from history to warn against any complacency this weekend.

Cunningham was part of the Cork backroom team in 2006 as the Leesiders were pushing for three titles on the spin at a time, similar to today, when questions were being asked about Brian Cody with his early success followed by a two-year spell where Cork were in the ascendancy.

“I was involved in '06 as a selector with John Allen at that time. We had a very good team with a lot of great players and were heading for the three-in-a-row,” Cunningham recounted at Thursday’s Independent.ie The Throw-In Live GAA podcast, in association with Bord Gais Energy.

“We hadn’t been beaten in 12 or 13 Championship matches before we got to the final but we’d been lucky in the previous two semi-finals, we’d been barely getting over the line.

“We got an onslaught that day. That was the first time when we saw people talk about tactics, whatever Brian Cody did that day. They pulled people back, they crowded everything, made it very very physical.

“We just weren’t ready for it. We weren’t expecting that sort of scenario. Kilkenny were the better side, they had a ferocious hunger that day. 

“At the end of it, there was still only a goal in it, one puck of the ball. What was disappointing about it was that was the end of that team to an extent. John moved on, Brian Corcoran finished and a few people pulled away.

“It was the end of an era. Looking back on it, people in Cork have a lot of warmth and love for that team because they were a great team to follow and support at the time."  

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While that era was ending in Cork, Kilkenny’s was only really beginning as Cody led them to an incredible seven more All-Ireland’s over the next nine years.

But ex-Dublin boss Cunningham feels the pendulum is now swinging back to Cork and believes they’re best equipped to push the current holders if they pass their Kilkenny test. Not only is their seven-point mauling of the Treaty in Munster still fresh in people’s minds, it's worth remembering also took extra-time to separate the teams in last season’s semi-final.

“Cork are potentially the one team who have their number. Limerick may regret not putting them out when they had the chance,” he finished.

“If Cork come through Sunday, they’ll be really dangerous. They won’t fear Limerick and probably feel there’s a bit of a revenge factor.

"They felt they let it slip last year and there’s a motivation there on Sunday that if they win that, there’s a chance to right that wrong in the semi.”

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