WHETHER Cork or Kerry advance to the Munster minor football championship final it’s likely to be one-sided, not very competitive and set to result in a decisive win for either.
Like the senior championship, the minor equivalent returns to the old way with the winners advancing and the losers bowing out.
The arrival of Covid-19 meant a new format instead of the long-winded and quite convoluted process of a round-robin series and play-offs involving Clare, Tipperar, Limerick and Waterford to provide two semi-finalists.
Cork and Kerry were scheduled to meet to determine the last-four pairings, supplying a second chance for the losers, something which benefitted the Rebels last season.
After twice losing to the Kingdom, Cork went all the way to claiming an 11th All-Ireland after overcoming Galway by 3-20 to 3-14 after extra-time in a memorable final.
Counties were guaranteed plenty of action with an All-Ireland quarter-final banked for those reaching provincial finals, but not this year for obvious reasons.
Munster officials are finalising dates and venues for the first round games between Tipperary and Clare and Waterford and Limerick and for the semi-finals involving the winners of those two games and Cork-Kerry, which is set to be pencilled in for Tralee.
The flip side is that it represents a golden opportunity for the so-called ‘weaker’ counties to reach a Munster final as happened regularly from 2011.
That year Tipp hammered Cork in the decider by 3-11 to 1-9 and contested finals in 2012, 13 and 14, beating Kerry by 2-14 to 1-14 in the first and losing by six and five points respectively in the others.
Clare took advantage in 2017 and 2018, but were out of their depth on both occasions, going down by 2-21 to 0-3 and 3-21 to 1-7.
Finding appropriate dates will be important because the All-Ireland semi-finals featuring the winners of Munster against the Connacht champions and Leinster against Ulster are listed for November 28-29 with the final a week later.
There’s also the secondary level colleges scene to be factored in, if, indeed, there’s a season at all given the many issues to be resolved in that sphere.
On a separate topic, though related in one aspect, Cork are hoping to launch a second year of a promotion to encourage young players kicking with both feet.
Kerry encourage this from an early stage in their youth development programmes and it’s an area in which they are well ahead of the rest, reflected in their five All-Ireland minors on the spin from 2014.
Cork ran a club, division and county kicking competition in 2019, sponsored by Co-Op SuperStores and the intention is to stage another again this year once Covid-19 restrictions allow.
A study was conducted by CIT’s Kevin Murray over the past year using Development Squads to monitor players’ ability to kick with both feet.
Video clips of Cork players over the years scoring with both feet will underscore its importance and more recently last year’s minor success will also feature.
That will include highlights and interviews with players as well as manager Bobbie O’Dwyer while current senior player Cathail O’Mahony from Mitchelstown will perform some of the skills and tests on video.
Conor Counihan, who is co-ordinating Cork’s Five-Year Plan, is a strong advocate as is Games Manager Kevin O’Callaghan and the various GDAs.