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Cork minors braced for major challenge in Munster final

June 1st, 2023 5:00 PM

By Matthew Hurley

Cork minors braced for major challenge in Munster final Image
Cork's Timmy Cullinane (Ballinascarthy) in control against Kerry's Stephen Gannon during the Munster MFC quarter-final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh. (Photo: George Hatchell)

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CORK minors are going beyond enemy lines in their efforts to win a third Munster MFC title in a row.

The defending champions take on Kerry this Friday at 7.30pm in Austin Stack Park, Tralee, live on TG4.

Both sides are guaranteed a place in the All-Ireland quarter-finals regardless of the scoreline, but a provincial title will be on their minds.

The previous meeting between the two arch rivals ended in a 2-12 to 0-14 win for Cork last month. Having said that, Kerry won the first game between the two in 2022, 1-16 to 0-5, but ended up losing in the final in Páirc Uí Rinn, 3-11 to 0-9.

St Mary’s clubman Daniel Cronin is part of the Cork backroom team and is ready for the challenge.

‘It’s exciting for young players especially. It's something they would have thought about since they were kids so I have no doubt that they’re excited,’ he explained.

‘Any day you get to qualify for a Munster final, it's always a big thing. We want lads to do well, we want them to perform.’

Three Munster titles in a row sound tempting, especially for a county who watched their rivals pick up eight in a row (2013 to 2020), winning five All-Irelands in a row in that timeframe too. However, Cronin, the rest of the management team and the players are just focused on getting the win.

‘If that comes to fruition, that’s brilliant, but that doesn’t dictate how we perform,’ Cronin said. ‘There are three lads who were on the team last year (Sean Coakley, Trevor Kiely and Gearoid Daly) but this is this year’s band and they want to win a Munster final their way. We have a job to do, to win on Friday. We don’t factor going for records into our thinking.’

The last meeting between the sides went very well from a Cork point of view. Cork had a 70 percent shot conversion rate and won 72 percent of their kickouts, along with the fact Bantry Blues’ Dara Sheedy played a starring role in scoring 1-5. The other West Cork players in Frank Hurley from O’Donovan Rossa, Timothy Cullinane of Ballinascarthy and Liam Hourihan from St Colum’s also played well. Interestingly, Hurley didn’t play at inter-county level at the U16 grade, a player who has played very well up to now.

Everything that could have gone right did from the result side but the performance aspect still needs work according to Cronin.

‘The lads will have some bit of confidence from that win, that things we are doing are working. Obviously there are things to improve on as well. The advantage might be with Kerry, they probably learnt more from that game than we did. They have home advantage (on Friday) so I’d say they’ll be fairly confident coming into it,’ Cronin said.

Cork went on to beat Tipperary by 5-9 to 1-11 in a semi-final where the opposition were closer than the scoreline suggested. Quite a drop off in terms of shooting from the Kerry game here, 53 percent accuracy, although kick outs were better, 82 percent retention. It was the goals that had Cork over the line in a tough game. A place in the All-Ireland quarter-finals is already confirmed, but the focus still remains on the job in hand on Friday for Cork.

‘The Kerry game was step one and less pressure because we were still in the competition regardless. Tipperary was step two of two. After getting that win, we opened up steps three and four. It does take the pressure off us. Our focus is one game at a time. The next step is to see how we get on in Tralee, get a good performance in and see where it takes us. We know we’re into a quarter-final but we’re focused on the Kerry game and that game only,’ Cronin concluded.

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