Cork reveal youthful team to face Kerry with Aussie Rules ace on the bench

Cork reveal youthful team to face Kerry with Aussie Rules ace on the bench

Cork's Colm O'Callaghan scores the opening goal from Louth's Bevan Duffy in the league game last month. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

SUNDAY: Munster football semi-final: Cork v Kerry, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, 4pm.

REIGNING champions Kerry are raging hot favourites to emerge from what will be the strangest of all meetings with their neighbours.

The floodlights will be on for a late afternoon championship game in November and there will be no spectators present.

And given what the weather Gods unleashed last Sunday all involved with have one eye on what’s being forecasted with the prospect of yet more rain.

Last season, Cork fell behind early in the provincial final but rallied to come within three points of a Kerry side, which pushed Dublin all the way only to come up just short in denying them their historic five-in-a-row of All-Ireland triumphs.

Ruairí Deane. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Ruairí Deane. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Its relevance has been diluted to an extent because of the much-changed Cork team, which lines-out on this occasion.

Between the goalkeeper and the six defenders just two remain, both on the left flank, Kevin Flahive in the corner and Mattie Taylor in the half-line.

Manager Ronan McCarthy has made a bold declaration with the inclusion of last season’s All-Ireland U20 winning full-back and centre-back in the shape of Maurice Shanley and Sean Meehan respectively.

And with Kerry likely to stick with the same formation which clinched the Division 1 league title recently, when they unveil their team on Friday night, it could mean Shanley picking up David Clifford and Meehan attempting to curb Sean O’Shea on the ’40.

Cork's Sean Meehan faced by Dublin's Neil Matthews. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Cork's Sean Meehan faced by Dublin's Neil Matthews. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Fit-again Sean Powter and Kevin O’Donovan, who came for the second half in the 1-19 to 3-10 loss last season, complete the defensive make-up.

Of course, positions or the numbers on jerseys count for little these days and this is bound to be borne out in the individual jobs tasked to each player.

For example, you could see Flahive picking up Clifford as he did last season and Taylor could divert across to make O’Shea, but we’ll have to wait and see.

Kerry’s scoring threat isn’t just confined to Clifford and O’Shea because a rejuvenated Tony Brosnan, scorer of 0-6 in the concluding league win over Donegal, represents another forward Cork must keep tabs on.

Cork opt for the usual midfield pairing of captain Ian Maguire and Killian O’Hanlon who faced David Moran and Jack Barry in 2019 though Diarmuid O’Connor is also in the Kerry frame for the number nine shirt.

There’s a third championship debutant and another link to last season’s U20 successes with Colm O’Callaghan named in the half-forward of an attack which has a familiar look to it.

The Éire Óg player is joined by Ruairí Deane and John O’Rourke in that sector while there’s plenty of scoring power and experience in the inside line of Mark Collins, Luke Connolly and Brian Hurley.

Cork have picked a bench packed with experience and talent with a springer in young Mark Keane from Mitchelstown for his first involvement, having just returned from playing Aussie Rules.

Collingwood player Keane would have been at midfield more than likely had he stuck around for last season’s U20 triumphs and could be used at midfield or a target man on the edge of the square.

Mark Keane during a Collingwood Magpies AFL training session. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Mark Keane during a Collingwood Magpies AFL training session. Picture: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

There’s no place in the 26 for leading scorer Cathail O’Mahony, who missed the last league game against Louth due to injury. Mark White and Tom Clancy aren't involved this season, while Tomás Clancy, Liam O'Donovan and Ciarán Sheehan are out through injury.

There are still plenty of good options on the Cork bench, from Paul Kerrigan, Michael Hurley, Seán White and Kevin O'Driscoll to U20 graduates Damien Gore and Paul Ring, and surprise inclusion Mark Keane.

There’s a very settled look to the Kingdom. The only expected change from last season in defence will see Peter Crowley start at centre-back, but the other five remain as does keeper Shane Ryan.

Corner-back Tom O’Sullivan plundered 1-1 that day and wing-back Gavin White was a goal-scorer against Donegal to reflect the scoring power throughout the team.

And manager Peter Keane is sure to pack a bench with the likes of Stephen O’Brien, Tommy Walsh, Gavin Crowley, Brian O Beaglaoich and Paul Geaney and James O’Donoghue if they’re fit.

Cork captain Ian Maguire and his team-mates stand for the anthem last summer. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Cork captain Ian Maguire and his team-mates stand for the anthem last summer. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

CORK (v Kerry): MA Martin (Nemo Rangers); S Powter (Douglas), M Shanley (Clonakilty), K Flahive (Douglas); K O’Donovan (Nemo Rangers), S Meehan (Kiskeam), M Taylor (Mallow); I Maguire (St Finbarr’s, c), K O’Hanlon (Kilshannig); J O’Rourke (Carbery Rangers), C O’Callaghan (Éire Óg), R Deane (Bantry Blues); M Collins (Castlehaven), B Hurley (do), L Connolly (Nemo Rangers). 

Subs: A Casey (Kiskeam), S Ryan (St Finbarr’s), P Ring (Aghabullogue), M Hurley (Castlehaven), T Corkery (Cill na Martra), P Walsh (Kanturk), K O’Driscoll (Tadhg MacCarthaighs), S White (Clonakilty), P Kerrigan (Nemo Rangers), M Keane (Mitchelstown), D Gore (Kilmacabea).

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