BY NOEL HORGAN
CORK manager Peadar Healy accepts the form-book points to a win for Kerry in Killarney this Sunday (throw-in, 2pm), and he says it’s disappointing that the revamped Páirc Uí Chaoimh wasn’t ready in time to stage the fixture.
He doesn’t feel Cork’s chances of upsetting the odds have been diminished now that the Munster final goes ahead in Fitzgerald Stadium, however, despite the fact that they haven’t beaten Kerry there since 1995.
‘We’re disappointed to be going down to Killarney, because our goal at the start of the year was to become the first Cork team to play in the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh,’ Healy said.
‘We (the management) were looking forward to it, the players were looking forward to it, and I’m sure the supporters were looking forward to it as well.
‘Maybe it’s a bit of a blessing in disguise, because playing at home would have brought its own pressure, and once Killarney was announced as the venue, we just decided to get on with it.
‘A lot of our players are well used to performing there, and I had four trips to Killarney as a selector when Conor Counihan was at the helm.
‘We lost two and drew two, and two years ago when Brian (Cuthbert) was in charge, Cork were two minutes away from getting a result there and were very unlucky to be held to a draw.
‘There is no point in pretending otherwise, Cork have an unwanted record in Killarney over the past 20 years or so, but we want to see it being broken next Sunday, and, as I’ve said, the pressure is off to a certain extent because nobody is giving us a chance going down there now.’
Healy agrees that Kerry are entitled to be hot-favourites, acknowledging that the criticism meted out to his management team recently isn’t unjustified, given how things have unfolded for the Rebels since he assumed the reins of control last year.
‘We deserve a lot of it, but I wouldn’t be saying that about the players,’ he stressed.
‘We are trying to build a team, and it’s going to take time, but it would be hard to make a case that we should be rated among the top six teams in the country at the moment.
‘We felt we weren’t too far behind the top teams after the encouraging performance in the championship qualifier against Donegal last year, but our form in this season’s league was disappointing, especially in the Clare game up in Ennis.
‘Having said that, we drew three games we could have won in Division 2, but we have to be prepared to take the slack for our displays in the championship games against Waterford and Tipperary.
‘Those performances simply weren’t good enough, although the way the lads rallied when their backs were to the wall in both games was a positive.
‘It gives us a bit more confidence going to Killarney, but we’ll need to have our act together from the start against Kerry, because they’d probably be no way back if we fall five points behind like we did in the Tipp game.’
Getting their act together from the start is a big issue for Cork, of course, bearing in mind that the substitutes used helped greatly to transform the team against Tipp.
It probably threw up more questions than answers about the team selection, with many suggesting the side that finished was stronger than the side that started the last day.
Healy admits the subs made a big difference, particularly Mark Collins, whose omission from the starting 15 had raised quite a few eyebrows on Leeside.
‘It was a big call to drop Mark, who is an exceptional player, but that was the decision we made, and he delivered a savage performance when he came on to put his hand up big-time for Killarney,’ Healy said.
‘We have Eoin Cadogan and Aidan Walsh ready to go again after injury, and everyone is available except Brian O’Driscoll, so it isn’t going to be easy to pick the team to face Kerry.’