CORK minor football manager Brian Herlihy is calling on the Rebels’ supporters to travel in big numbers for Sunday’s Munster minor final (12 noon throw-in) against Kerry at Fitzgerald Stadium, Killarney.
The failure of the county’s senior footballers to defeat Tipperary and set-up a traditional Munster SFC final clash against the Kingdom will severely hit the number of travelling Cork fans who will make the trip to Killarney for one of the highlights of the GAA year (Munster SFC final weekend), but Herlihy has urged supporters to throw their weight – and voices – behind the Rebels’ young guns.
‘Hopefully as many fans as possible will make the trip down because this is a great bunch that has put in a huge effort and they deserve as much support as possible,’ the Dohenys man told The Southern Star.
‘It’s a noon start, which is early, and we know that we are there on our own because the seniors won’t be involved on the day, but it would be a boost to these young lads to see Cork fans come and support them on a big occasion like this.
‘Killarney for a football final is a great place to travel to, it’s easy to get there, there are great facilities and Cork fans always enjoy their time there, so hopefully we’ll get a crowd behind us. This is where we want to be, it’s a Munster final against Kerry in Killarney, so we’re ready for it.’
The throw-in of 12 noon means an early start for the Cork minors on Sunday morning as they travel to the home of the All-Ireland champions of the past two seasons, which is a daunting challenge for Cork’s bright young footballers – but Herlihy feels they’re ready to face their biggest challenge.
‘Kerry have four of last year’s All-Ireland winning team, eight of that panel and add into the mix that St Brendan’s College won the Hogan Cup, so you can see this is another strong, formidable Kerry team,’ the Cork minor boss said.
‘They are playing at home so they have a lot going for them and we will give them the respect that they deserve. We know we have to play at our best as a team to beat them, we need to raise our game.’
En route to this final, Cork beat Tipperary 1-14 to 1-11 in a quarter-final at Páirc Uí Rinn, a game that saw the teams level with ten minutes to go before Cork kicked three late scores to win. The West Cork influence was noticeable in that game as Dohenys’ Mark Buckley scored 0-5 from play while Kilmacabea’s Damien Gore finished with eight points, five from frees.
Next up was a 1-19 to 0-6 semi-final win against Limerick, again in Páirc Uí Rinn, on May 12th, with Gore (0-7, 5f), Buckley (0-3), Cathal Maguire (Castlehaven) and Colm O’Callaghan (0-2 each) and Sean O’Sullivan (1-0) just some of the players on target. In truth, Cork could have done with a tougher test before Sunday’s Munster final against a Kerry team that has beaten Waterford (2-21 to 1-2) and Clare (1-13 to 1-6) to reach this stage.
‘When Tipperary came back to equalise and the game was there for the taking, we stood up and we finished very well. We showed great maturity for a young team,’ reflected Brian Herlihy, in his first year as minor manager.
‘Against Limerick, we didn’t have as much pressure on us, we were at home and we played well, the lads expressed themselves a bit. I can’t have asked for anymore from the panel and the attitude of the players,’ he added, before praising the attitude of his team.
‘Goalkeeper Mark White and Nathan Walsh are the only two fellas from last year so this is a new team, but it’s a hard-working team whose foundation is build on a team ethic. We don’t have any superstars, it’s an honest team that has put in a huge effort.’
Of the 2-33 Cork have scored, Gore (0-15, 10f) and Buckley (0-8) have accounted for 0-23, which is well over 50 per cent of the scores. Colm O’Callaghan has 1-2, Sean O’Sullivan 1-0 and Cathal Maguire 0-2.
Whatever happens in Killarney on Sunday, Cork have the safety net of knowing that they are already guaranteed a place in the All-Ireland MFC quarter-finals on the August bank holiday weekend. The Munster winners play the runners-up in Ulster, and the Munster runners-up take on the Ulster champions. Donegal take on Derry in the Ulster MFC final on Sunday, July 17th.