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Ian Maguire of Cork in action against David Moran of Kerry during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship final in 2017 in Killarney. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ian Maguire of Cork in action against David Moran of Kerry during the Munster GAA Football Senior Championship final in 2017 in Killarney. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
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Cork footballers draw Kerry in Munster which could consign them to a proposed All-Ireland B competition

THE Cork footballers will have to beat Kerry to make the 2020 Munster final, a feat they haven't managed since their last provincial triumph seven years ago.

Cork will host their great rivals next summer for the third year running, as they are owed matches under the home and away agreement on the basis of the two 2015 clashes, which went to a rain-soaked replay, and 2017. 

Cork and Kerry didn't meet in 2016 as the Rebels were shocked by Tipp in the semi-final.

Ronan McCarthy's side have been handed the toughest possible semi-final draw and if an All-Ireland B grade is introduced, they'll need a victory to stay in the hunt for Sam Maguire.

One of the GAA's proposals to be voted on at a meeting in Páirc Uí Chaoimh this month is that only Division 1 and Division 2 teams will be allowed enter the proper All-Ireland should they not make the provincial final. 

As Cork were relegated to Division 3 for next season, that would demote them to the second tier of the championship if they failed to get a win over the Kingdom.

Seeing as they haven't defeated Kerry in the summer since 2012 that's a distinct possibility. However, the upcoming vote in the Páirc could see the 'top 16' based on final league positions in 2020, meaning a top-two finish in Division 3 next spring would save Cork.

Regardless, it'll be a massive ask for Cork to defeat the All-Ireland runners-up despite pushing them all the way earlier this year. Kerry hammered Cork in jousts on Leeside in 2014 and 2018.

However, it will take a voting margin of 60% at the Special Congress to introduce a second grade in senior football and it's unlikely the weaker counties will back the move.