Rebels boss Shane Ronayne backs ‘improving’ Cork to rattle Kerry in Munster final

May 14th, 2024 3:45 PM

By Kieran McCarthy

Cork's Libby Coppinger in action against Kerry's Anna Galvin in their Division 1 league clash this season. (Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile)

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SHANE Ronayne concedes that Cork need Kerry to underperform if they’re to silence the Kingdom in the upcoming Munster senior football final.

The Rebels will face off with Kerry in a repeat of last year’s decider that Ronayne’s team won 5-14 to 2-17 in an epic in Mallow, but the Cork manager acknowledges that there’s a gap between the teams now given their contrasting form this season.

While Cork were relegated from Division 1 of the league after six losses in a row, Kerry qualified for the final, and the Kingdom won all three round-robin games in Munster, including a recent 1-14 to 1-10 victory over Cork on Kerry soil.

Still, defending provincial champions Cork won’t fear the challenge in Mallow on Saturday, May 18th (4pm throw-in), as Ronayne is pleased with the progress his new-look team has made in Munster – wins over Waterford and Tipperary sandwiched the defeat to Kerry.

‘Kerry are that small bit ahead of us at the moment, but if we can play at our best we will have a right rattle off them. There won’t be much between us,’ Ronayne said.

‘Our girls know we need to play at 110 percent and hope Kerry are a few percent below their best because they are ahead of us at the moment, and have a seasoned team. We could be down six starters from last year's Munster final starting team, but we are evolving, getting better by the week and the players are improving too.

‘We have nothing to lose, we are in a Munster final which is where we wanted to be, and if the girls give a big performance who knows.’

The Cork manager has watched his team bounce back from their league woes to start threading consistent performances together. Though he admits they weren’t at their best to beat Tipperary in a winner-take-all tie in Mallow last weekend, Cork still job the job done – late points from Katie Quirke and Sadbh McGoldrick saw them come from behind to snatch a 0-11 to 0-10 win.

‘It’s a sign of progression that when we were a point down in injury time and not going well, we showed great composure to win our own kick-out and went up and got a great point from a free from Katie,’ Ronayne explained.

‘We won the next kickout and worked the score excellently, got the ball to Sadhbh in the pocket and she kicked a great point.

‘We were delighted with the character the girls showed, we weren’t playing great but when the crunch came, they delivered. That’s a sign they are maturing. Good teams can dig out wins when they are not playing well.’

As well as securing their place in the Munster final, qualifying for the decider will also boost Cork’s chances in the All-Ireland series to come.

‘Qualifying for the final was the big goal,’ Ronayne stated.

‘When you look at how the season pans out after that, getting to a Munster final gives you a clearer path to the knockout stages because you are seeded in the draw. If you are unseeded, it means you will be playing against two seeded teams in a group of three so it would make life a lot more difficult.

‘If you had offered us this at the start of the championship, given how things had gone we would have bitten your hand off. We have had two good performances, last Saturday we weren’t at our best but it’s hard to perform three weekends in a row.’

Cork footballers have a break this weekend before they plan to ambush Kerry in Mallow the following Saturday.

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