Preview: Munster SFC final Kerry v Cork; Sunday; Fitzgerald Stadium
Munster’s traditional big two renew battle on Sunday when they clash in the 2015 Munster final in Killarney.
Fitzgerald Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for the Rebels in Munster Finals during recent years, having not one a Munster decider in Kerry since 1995. Brian Cuthbert and his team head to the home of their great rivals aiming to end their barren run of victories, while also trying to amend the humiliating defeat they suffered at the hands of Eamon Fitzmaurice’s team in the 2014 Munster final.
Cork defeated the Kingdom during the League earlier this year, as they had done in 2014 before their hammering by Kerry in the Munster Final, and this year they suffered another big game mauling when Dublin eased past them in the League final. These defeats have led to some serious questions being raised about Brian Cuthbert’s team, and their ability to cope with a big game atmosphere.
A 1-20 – 1-08 win over Clare in their semi-final at least got them back to winning ways, but the question mark with Cork is whether they can consistently produce the performance needed to beat or at least challenge Kerry on Sunday.
Brian Cuthbert makes two changes for Sunday’s clash with Eoin Cadogan and Fintan Gould coming into the team at full back and midfield respectively.
Kerry for their part, go into this year’s Munster final on the back of a 2-14 – 2-08 semi-final win over ever improving Tipperary. Their League form may have been patchy, but indifferent League form didn’t seem to worry them on their way to an All-Ireland triumph last year.
Eamon Fitzmaurice makes five changes from the team that defeated Tipperary, recalling Fionn Fitzgerald at corner back, David Moran to midfield, Stephen O’ Brien and Donnchadh Walsh to the half forward line and, Footballer of the Year James O’ Donoghue to the inside forward line.
Whether Kerry can have the same drive and motivation this summer that led them to claim Sam Maguire last September is open to debate, but the reintroduction of Gooch to the squad and, the return of Tommy Walsh to Kerry football should offer the squad enough fresh impetus to beat Cork on Sunday.
The Rebels on the other hand, will want to prove the doubters wrong and show that they are capable of competing with a top tier side in a big match. Whether that will be enough to stop Kerry however, is doubtful.
Kerry team: Brendan Kealy; Fionn Fitzgerald, Marc Ó Sé, Shane Enright; Jonathan Lyne, Peter Crowley, Killian Young; David Moran, Bryan Sheehan, Stephen O’Brien, Johnny Buckley, Donnchadh Walsh; Barry John Keane, Kieran Donaghy, James O’Donoghue.
Cork team: Ken O’Halloran; Michael Shields, Eoin Cadogan, James Loughrey; Barry O’Driscoll, Brian O’Driscoll, Stephen Cronin; Alan O’Connor, Fintan Goold; Paul Kerrigan, Donncha O’Connor, Kevin O’Driscoll; Colm O’Neill, Mark Collins, Brian Hurley.