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A tall order but Cork up for the fight

April 20th, 2024 9:00 AM

By Sean Holland

A tall order but Cork up for the fight Image
Kerry’s Brian Ó Beaglaoich and Cork's Daniel Dineen battle for the ball during the 2021 Munster SFC final.

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WITH Saturday’s Munster football semi-final meeting with Kerry looming large, Cork manager John Cleary is relishing the huge task that awaits his side this weekend but knows they’ll have to take their chances or it’ll be another Munster misfortune for the Rebels. The Castlehaven man spoke to The Southern Star, shedding light on his team's preparations and expectations ahead of the clash with the Kingdom.

‘From our point of view, we're looking forward to it. This time last year, we didn't get there (Killarney) and we were very disappointed. We were happy enough to get over Limerick the last day, and we knew if we did that, we'd be heading for Killarney. So we are looking forward to it, and hopefully that we can perform on the day, and we'll see where it takes us’, said Cleary. Having not tasted championship victory in Killarney since 1995, the Cork boss is under no illusion of the size of the task. ‘Any time you are playing Kerry, no matter where it is, it's a very tall ask. Kerry are one of the favourites to win
the All-Ireland. They have an exceptionally good team. So we wouldn't be under any illusion about what the size of the task is. ‘All we can do is con- centrate on ourselves and try to improve and go down there and hopefully perform the way that we can perform and see where it takes us,’ he added.

For the last three decades, many a Cork side has travelled to Killarney knowing that curbing the talented forwards in green and gold would be key to victory, in 2024 that goal remains. ‘Every opposition that we play beforehand, we look at their strengths and weaknesses. Kerry are no different. Look, it's very obvious where their strengths lie and it’s up front. They have two or three of the best forwards in the game and maybe the best ever to play the game at this stage in David Clifford. So that is going to be a big, big task to try and curtail them. But look, that's what we're in it for. That's why we want to test ourselves against the likes of Kerry and see where we're at. They will take a bit of stopping, but we're up for the challenge and hopefully we can limit them in some way there on Saturday,’ explained the Cork boss.

After the quarter-final clash with Limerick, much was made of Cork’s wastefulness in front of goal. Cleary has highlighted it, knowing that against the best you must take your chances otherwise you’ll pay the ultimate price. ‘We have been working on them (goal chances), and we've been working on them all year, actually. It has cost us going back in the last few games. So hopefully that we can step up to the mark there when we get our chances. If you're to have any hope of an upset or put- ting pressure on them, when the chances come, you've got to take them. When you get chances against the top teams, the Kerrys, the Dublins, the Derrys, you can be 100 per cent sure that when they go down the other end, they'll take theirs and you'll be left rueing them. If we get the chances on Saturday, we'll have to take them or we'll pay the consequences’.

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