Kerry manager knows stopping Cork goal threat key in Munster football semi

Kerry manager knows stopping Cork goal threat key in Munster football semi

Paul Kerrigan of Cork shoots to score his side's third goal past goalkeeper Craig Lynch of Louth last month in the league. Picture: Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

CORK’S scoring exploits in capturing the Division 3 title caught the eye of Kerry manager Peter Keane.

The Rebels totalled an impressive 12-96 from their six games, averaging 2-17, and were razor-sharp especially in closing out the campaign.

They only bagged one goal in their opening three league games, but went into overdrive coming down the stretch by hitting 11 in their remaining three.

Cork hit three against Tipperary and Derry and then accumulated five against relegated Louth before handed a walk-over from Longford in their last game.

And there’s a wide spread of scorers, too, with Nemo Rangers pair, Luke Connolly and Paul Kerrigan, both claiming two as did John O’Rourke.

There was one apiece for captain Ian Maguire, Ruairi Deane, Colm O’Callaghan, Mark Collins, Damien Gore and Ciarán Sheehan.

“Cork have taken on their performances in the Super 8s, when they were very competitive, by having a fantastic league campaign,” Keane said ahead of their Munster semi-final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday at 4pm.

“Their scoring returns have been very, very high and that’s no different to last year, when Cork scored three goals against us. Cork know what they’re about and we’re going to have a right battle,” he commented.

His Cork counterpart, Ronan McCarthy, played down its significance. “I know we scored a lot of goals in the league and scored three against Kerry last year, but you never go out looking for them.

“You just want players to make the right choices at the right time and if it’s on keeping the scoreboard ticking over,” he said.

Luke Connolly going for goal against Tyrone last summer. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Luke Connolly going for goal against Tyrone last summer. Picture: Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Kerry come in as hot favourites, having won the Division 1 title for the 21st time and look to have a settled side.

“It’s very hard to know how things will pan out this time,” McCarthy added.

“Kerry seem to be motoring well, defensively very solid and it’s up to us to try and chip away at that, create openings as best as we can.” 

The arrival of winter championship football didn’t detract from the excitement or commitment of players up and down the country, notably on Sunday when Storm Aidan caused havoc.

It was felt most notably at wind and rain belted Ballybofey, where Donegal squeezed past Tyrone by 1-13 to 1-11 in the most horrendous conditions.

Short passing and a possession type style was fraught with all sorts of dangers on a pitch, which cut up badly as the afternoon progressed.

Later, Armagh ensured league form stood up as they pipped Derry by two points, but Cavan bucked the trend with their remarkable win over division 1 outfit Monaghan, winning by 2-15 to 1-17 after extra-time.

It was the same in Munster, where division 3 Tipperary had a goal to spare from division 2 Clare in Thurles, winning by 2-11 to 1-11, and so qualified to meet Limerick in the other semi-final at the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday at 1.15pm.

There was a strong Clonmel Commericals look to the Tipp attack with five representatives from the former Munster club champions joining skipper Conor Sweeney from Ballyporeen.

Tipp boss David Power included the three Kennedys, Jack, Conal and Colman, along with Michael Quinlivan and Jason Lonergan.

Conor Sweeney scores a point for Tipp. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Conor Sweeney scores a point for Tipp. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Sweeney underlined his importance to the cause by scoring 1-4 with Bill Maher scoring the other goal and Jack Kennedy firing over three important frees.

Tipp dominated for long spells but faced a Clare revival near the end when they missed a penalty as well as kicking some poor wides.

Liam Casey and Steven O’Brien formed a solid midfield partnership with the former scoring 0-2 from play and Tipp will travel with a lot of confidence from their victory.

Limerick carried their division 4 title success into the championship by overcoming Waterford by 2-14 to 0-9 in Dungarvan.

Last season Limerick thumped Tipp in the championship and it promises to be an intriguing contest with a place in the final the lucrative prize on offer.

Out west, Mayo set-up a Connacht semi-final with Roscommon after defeating Leitrim by 2-15 to 0-10.

And in Leinster, Offaly, Wicklow and Longford progressed to next weekend’s quarter-finals, when All-Ireland champions Dublin meet Westmeath.

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