BY JOHNNY CAROLAN
WHILE Cork are clear underdogs for next Sunday’s Munster SFC final against Kerry in Killarney, manager Ronan McCarthy isn’t giving any credence to the notion of another ‘ambush’.
Last year, a late Mark Keane goal gave Cork a two-point win over the Kingdom – a first championship victory against them since 2012 – but it followed a tough battle between the sides in 2019 where Kerry triumphed by three points.
Peter Keane’s side have impressed in seeing off Clare and Tipperary so far and are almost-unbackable favourites with the bookmakers bit McCarthy doesn’t think that Cork are going in without any prospects. ‘There was a lot of talk of that,’ he said, ‘we had no interest in it then and we have no interest in it now, about ambushes and coming in under the radar. ‘I’ve no interest in bigging them up to be massive favourites and about us being no-hopers.
We’re happy to take the game on its merits and, without repeating myself, they’re a quality team, we know that, we acknowledge that but we would feel that we could have played better in that game last year as well, certainly up front we could have played better.
‘You’ve seen elements of it in the league where we’ve played really well up front but maybe got the balance wrong defensively. I thought we rectified that a bit in the game against Limerick but, whatever you pause and analyse it, this is going to be a difficult game.
‘I think it’ll be a great occasion and a great game and it’s where we want to be.’
McCarthy expects to have a full squad to choose from for the game as injuries to Seán Powter and Daniel O’Mahony in Saturday’s Munster semi-final win over Limerick were not serious.
‘That’s what we’re hoping anyway,’ he said.
‘We got everybody off on time that needed to come. Obviously, fellas were sore after the game but all of those guys are fine and we have everybody back in relation to Liam O’Donovan, Maurice Shanley, Colm O’Callaghan, so our panel has been strong.
‘That helps obviously from the point of view of selection and competition for places and brings a bit more experience back into the squad as well – all three of those have played Munster championship against Kerry in either 2019 or 2020.’
Having so many options means that players will be left out of the match-day 26. Seán White wasn’t a sub on Saturday and McCarthy confirmed that the Clonakilty man wasn’t injured.
‘No, he just didn’t make the squad,’ he said.
‘We had Nathan Walsh who didn’t make the 26, fully fit – now, he had been out injured during the league but was back fit and had been back training.
‘Nathan played in the 2019 championship, you had Seán White, who played in the Super 8s and was arguably our best player in it, certainly against Dublin and Tyrone he was outstanding.
‘The nature of it is that there’s a lot of competition there and it’s only worse it’s going to get with Liam, Colm and Maurice coming back.
‘That’s the nature of it, it’s something we’ve spoken to the players a lot about – at elite level sport, you have to come in and perform every time.
‘I think Seán is a real quality player, he has shown that and he can get back to that level again but him and other fellas obviously have work to do.’