Senior/Minor Munster Football Finals

Kerry 1-15 Cork 1-12 – Senior Championship

Cork: A. Quirke; J. O’Sullivan (E. Cotter); G. Canty; M. Shields; N. O’Leary; J. Miskella (D. O’Sullivan); P. Kissane (E. Cadogan);  A. O’Connor (0-1); A. Walsh; C. Sheehan (0-1, F. Gould); P. Kelly (0-1); P. O’Neill; D. Goulding (0-5, 0-3f); D. O’Connor (1-1; 1-0p), P. Kerrigan (0-3, F. Lynch).

Kerry: B. Kealy; S. Enright (D. Bohan); M. O’Se; T. O’Sullivan; A. O’Mahony; E. Brosnan (0-1); K. Young; A. Maher; B. Sheehan (0-2, M. Quirke); Darren O’Sullivan (1-0, J. O’Donoghue 0-1); Declan O’Sullivan (0-5); D. Walsh (0-1); C. Cooper (0-2, 0-1f); K. Donaghy (0-2); K. O’Leary (0-1, BJ. Keane).

Another defeat at the hands of Kerry for a Cork footballing team, but a game that the Cork management should learn a lot from. A classic ‘game of two halves’ Cork were played off the pitch in the opening half and were lucky to be only eight points down as Kerry hit many poor wides. In truth, Cork probably won’t play as badly again all year, playing the entire half sluggishly, failing to get the ball into O’Connor and Goulding both of whom had the beating of their men. Indeed one doubts Cork will play another half of hurling with as little ball as we did on Sunday. In contrast, in the second half Kerry were the ones struggling with the increased pace and intensity of the game although Kerry stymied Cork’s dominance through superior discipline and work ethic then Cork in the first half, effectively closing down space for Cork’s attack to operate. Arguably Cork could have won the game if Miskella’s goal chance had ended up in the net as it could have easily done but Kerry generally were the better more consistent team.

For Cork, there were a number of good individual performances. At the back, Shields and Canty put in decent shifts, even if it was clear the latter isn’t match fit. Our half-back line was poor throughout, although this is maybe unsuprising considering it consists of three half-backs, all three of which like to roam forward at any opportuinity. Miskella was probably the best of the lot as he offered something going forward at times but the line as whole struggled badly with the pace and movement of the Kerry attack, particularly in the first half. Cadogan and Cotter’s introduction improved matters in the second half and both should be in line for a start next day, possibly with Cadogan in the corner, Shields at full and Canty at center back.

Further up the pitch, Cork’s policy if hitting non-stop short kick-outs hurt Aidan Walsh, who’s main ability to win aerial ball went completely under-utilised. In contrast, Alan O’Connor had possibly his best game in a Cork jersey, particularly in the second half, winning numerous ball in the air and working exceedingly hard in midfield. However the decision to not hit long kick-outs was an interesting one – possibly Kerry stacked the midfield so much that players weren’t available, possibly Counihan and co are so obssessed with monopolising possession that the risk of hitting it long isn’t seen as worth it anymore.

Up front, Cork played relatively well. It should be said that Patrick Kelly had one of his poorer games in a Cork jersey and was tightly marked out of the game. Its clear that Kerry were aware of the absolute importance of both Kelly and Walsh and did a good job of taking both out of the game. Elsewhere, Kerrigan hit some form notching a trio of points in the second half, while Goulding and O’Connor looked lively in side when given fast ball (unforunately this rarely happened after the first five minutes). Still both got some cracking scores. The loss of Sheehan for the year will be huge – it looked like this was his year to really explode, and his solitary point was a good example of the power and aggression that he has. Thankfully, Fintan Goold is a decent replacement, as is Mark Collins. Elsewhere, Pearse O’Neill had a great second half and along with Alan O’Connor was the main catalyst for the Cork comeback, winning huge amounts of dirty ball and driving forward at the Kerry defence at a number of occasions creating goal chances.

For Kerry, one has to mention Declan O’Sullivan as MOTM and a real thorn in the side of the Cork team throughout. O’Sullivan is about as classy and intelligent footballer one is ever likely to see, highly efficent in possession and the ideal playmaker. Outside him, Darren O’Sullivan drifitng in and out of the game but got an exceptional goal which showed off his great potential Donaghy and Cooper as usual had good games despite not being as sharp a they can be. Elsewhere Sheehan seems a liablity in midfield, too immobile to work hard enough against the likes of Alan O’Connor. In general Kerry’s defence was solid throughout – although its not as if its anywhere as near as strong as it was 3-4 years ago – and the inexperienced Shane Enright in particular will be happy with a pretty quiet day. In general, this is a game that will bring both teams, and even though Cork can probably improve more it should be remembered that Kerry were missing a number of important players.

T ipperary 3-11 Cork 1-9 – Minor Championship

Cork: J. McDonnell; J. Davis; K. Fulignati; S. Cronin; K. Crowley (C. Dorman, K. Kavanagh); B. O’Driscoll (0-2f); T. Brosnan (0-1, K .McIntyre), S. Kiely; D. Murphy; M. Sugrue (0-1); A. Cadogan (D. Harrington 0-1); C. Vaughan; D. McEoin (1-4; 0-3f); S. O’Mahony; C. O’Sullivan (J. Corkery).

Tipperary: G. Slattery; N. Sullivan; C. O’Sullivan; S. Kennedy; C. O’Riordan (0-2); D. Fitzell; A. McGuire (J. Meagher); S. O’Brien; I. Fahey (0-1); G. Henry (1-1); P. Quirke; B. Maher (D. Lonergan); L. McGrath (1-0); M. Quinlivan (1-1, 1-0p, D. Butler); TJ. Ryan (0-6, 0-2f, C. Kennedy).

A disapointing result for the Cork Minors but in truth this was a game in which Tipperary deserved to win even if Cork weren’t quite 8 points the inferior team. In reality Tipperary have some excellent forwards that took full advantage of the defensive frailties of the Cork side, namely the lacklustre spine of our defense. Even though O’Driscoll had a solid game at center-back and looks a good prospect both full-backs in the game – Dorman and Fulignati – struggled badly to dominate at the back. Similarly TJ Ryan at corner forward was dangerous and clinical throughout while Henry, Quinlivan and McGrath all offered moments of class at different moments. As such, Cork managements greatest headache – as was pretty clear at our opening game versus Clare – is our lack of quality and balance at the back, hence the use of forwards like McIntyre at half-back. To be fair, our defence was dealth a considerable blow with the loss of Crowley after a few minutes, but the class of Tipp’s attack was such that injuries or otherwise we were always likely to lose.

Further up the pitch the Cork team gets more impressive. McEoin is a class act, both stylish and powerful, and a future option for our seniors if handled properly. Elsewhere Mark Sugrue and Cathal Vaughan worked hard throughout and were probably Cork’s best players after McEoin and O’Driscoll. Unfortunately we struggled to win possession at midfield, particularly in the second half, where both Fahey and 16 year old O’Brien dominated. As such, quality forwards like O’Sullivan and Harrington didn’t see enough of the ball, and when they did it was slow and they were too easily crowded out by the Tipp defenders. In truth it was, for one of Cuthbert’s teams, an uncharacteristically sluggish performance but one doubts if the quality is there this year like it was to really compete for an All-Ireland championship.

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