Tag: Cork LGFA

Kerry And Cork Set For A Classic Battle At CIT.

TG4 Munster Championship Final 

CIT GAA Grounds Saturday 23rd June at 2pm. 

When the Kerry ladies walked off the pitch after their 2-16 to 1-6  Munster semi final victory over Waterford at Fitzgerald Stadium nearly 3 weeks ago they received a round of applause that they had never experienced before as senior inter county footballers. At that stage there was approximately 14,000 people gathered in the Killarney venue, and they stood as one to salute an excellent Kerry victory. 

To be fair, the majority of the Kerry supporters had come to catch the senior men’s game afterwards, but they appreciated the superb performance that the ladies had given on the day. A Garda escort to the grounds was something that the Kerry girls also experienced for the first time, whilst championship debuts for Laoise Coughlan, Emma Dineen, Siobhan Burns, Aoife O’Callaghan and Clodagh O’Connor heralded the dawning of a new era for this emerging Kerry side. 

It was the older more established players that stood out that day however, as Sarah Houlihan with a goal and nine points gave a player of the match display, while Lorraine Scanlon bossed the midfield exchanges with a towering performance. Andrea Murphy was also very prominent in the forward line, and scored a goal and two points, whilst debutant Dineen showed glimpses of the vast potential that the Glenflesk girl possesses. The only setback for Kerry on the day was a shoulder injury picked up by ace attacker Louise Ni Mhuircheartaigh, which leaves her as a major doubt for the Munster final. Ni Mhuircheartaigh did a light training at Kerry’s base in Currans during the week, but a decision on her fitness won’t be made until the last minute. 

On the other side of the draw Cork were safely seeing off the challenge of the emerging Tipperary on a 2-12 to 1-10 scoreline. Tipperary, the 2017 All Ireland Intermediate champions, were hotly tipped by many to cause a surprise, but Cork showed all of their experience to see off their challenge. A spread of 8 different scorers on the day highlighted the threat that Cork possess throughout their team, with 5 of the 6 starting forwards getting their names on the scoresheet. Although many of the household names from Cork’s golden era have retired, they still have oceans of talent in their ranks with Orla Finn, Doireann O’Sullivan, Ashling Hutchings, Orla Farmer and Eimear Scally all top performers. 

Kerry manager Eddie Sheehy has been in the hot seat for a few weeks but he has already stampted his own particular style of play on the side. Sheehy believes in pacey attacking football, and the team certainly showed glimpses of his vision against Waterford in the second half. This allied to a high level of workrate throughout the side gives them a serious chance of retaining the title that they won in 2017. 

The victory over Waterford shouldn’t gloss over some of the fundamental problems that Kerry have however. Sheehy’s charges struggled with their restarts for a large portion of the first half in that game, and they seem to be overly reliant on a long kick out to Lorraine Scanlon in the middle of the field. With Ni Mhuircheartaigh a major doubt, it is also worrying that the attack has such a huge reliance on Sarah Houlihan to get their scores. The defence has also struggled in the past with teams that have run directly at them, although it must be said that they coped quite well with this tactic against Waterford. Sheehy has enlisted international basketball coach Liam Culloty to his backroom team, and his influence appears to be having a positive influence on Kerry’s defensive structure. Against Waterford the Kerry backline tackled in two’s and three’s, and time and again turned over the Deise attacks. Eilis Lynch, Aislinn Desmond and Aishling O’Connell were certainly to the fore in this regard and had excellent games for the Kingdom. Kerry have also adopted a zonal structure for opposition kick outs and it will be interesting to see how this tactic works against Cork. 

Kerry will need to be at full tilt if they are to retain their Munster title. Cork’s attack is lethal in possession, and their transition play is swift and dangerous. Kerry will have to stop their forward momentum high up the field if they hope to gain victory. There is change to be got from the Cork defence however, and in particular their full back line which appears to be their weakest link. If Scanlon and Amanda Brosnan can gain a foothold in the middle of the field then Kerry are in with a great chance. The hard working Eilish O’Leary is bound to help out in this sector as well, as she did to good effect in the Waterford game. 

There is no doubt that Cork will come into the game as hot favourites, especially playing in their home patch of CIT, which is bound to be an advantage. It can’t be overlooked either that Kerry had a disastrous National League campaign in which they finished pointless at the bottom of Division 1. Cork had a much better time of it and won 5 out of their 7 games before losing by 2 points to Mayo in the semi final. The championship is a different kettle of fish of course, and with the bounce that a new management team can bring, Kerry will be confident of lowering the Cork colours.